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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reform

What is the USPSTF?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a government panel of independent, volunteer national experts in the fields disease prevention. However, the USPSTF currently makes recommendations about clinical preventive services without consulting patients or specialists in the management of related conditions. We feel this hinders setting appropriate care guidelines, particularly in the area of urological practice.

Why is Reform Needed?

Historically, USPSTF recommendations on clinical preventive health services have created confusion among patients and the primary care community for years. The current insulated USPSTF process disallows meaningful contributions from medical specialists and the public who add credibility to research and evidence-based decision making on preventive care and treatment.

Section 2713 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) grants USPSTF recommendations to be regarded as law, making them de facto mandates on which services private plans and public programs, such as Medicare, must reimburse. Having been empowered in this way, it is essential that this advisory panel be subject to greater transparency and accountability.

The Risks of an Insulated Task Force

In May 2012, the USPSTF recommended against the prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) based screening test for prostate cancer in all men, regardless of risk. This decision counters the informed opinion of expert physicians, as well as decades of data and research showing early detection of prostate cancer, when in its most manageable state, saves lives. Input and recommendations from specialists and patients would have provided evidence on the benefit of PSA-based screening in vulnerable populations including African Americans and men with a family history of the disease.

The AUA's Role in USPSTF Reform

Through the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act, the AUA is actively working with lawmakers to reform this task force. Our goal is to create greater transparency and accountability within the panel. Our work to lead reform includes increasing the level of evidence-based input used in developing preventive services. Including feedback from patients and the specialists involved in treating urological conditions is key to a more responsible government panel and better outcomes. Since 2012, the AUA has advocated in support of the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act.

H.R. 3534 (the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act of 2019) was introduced in June 2019 by Reps. Bobby Rush (D–IL–1), Phil Roe, MD (R–TN–1), Neal Dunn, MD (R–FL–2) and Judy Chu (D–CA–27).

Reform continues with H.R.539 - Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2019. This resolution would require the USPSTF to:

  • Publish research plans and make available reports on such evidence and recommendations for public comment
  • Ensure medical specialty physicians are consulted
  • Establish a stakeholder board to ensure input on developing, updating, publishing and disseminating evidence-based recommendations
  • Codify the current grading system so it can't be changed without review; and
  • Ensure that Medicare or other payors cannot deny payment for a preventive service solely based on the task force grade

Join Our Efforts

It’s much easier than you think to do your part. Visit the AUA Advocacy Center for updates on alerts and calls to action on this issue.

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Comment Letters

116th Congress (2019-2020)

115th Congress (2017-2018)

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