ACR supports USPSTF transparency bill

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has thrown its support behind legislation that seeks to boost transparency in the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

The USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (HR 1151), introduced by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), would also change the grading and recommendation process in light of the fact that USPSTF grades have such a substantial impact on coverage policies.

“USPSTF recommendations were initially intended to provide supplementary guidance to primary care physicians, but they are now used to influence national screening program guidelines, federal and private sector coverage policies, and direct-to-consumer screening recommendations,” read a statement from the ACR.

Under the Affordable Care Act, any preventive services receiving a grade of A or B from the task force must be covered without copayment by private payers.

HR 1151 would require codification of the USPSTF’s grading definitions so they can’t be changed without review. The bill also would eliminate the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exempt “nongraded” or insufficiently-graded services from Medicare coverage.

Other changes within the bill include requirements for more balanced representation between primary care providers, specialists, patients and other stakeholders; implementation of public comment on proposed research plans; regular updates from the director on proper methodological standards for research plans; and disclosure of conflicts of interest among task force members.