POLICY BRIEFINGS


Appropriations Progress Begins in the Senate


The Senate is set to begin work on individual spending bills this week, with the goal of marking up the bills around the Memorial Day recess. The chamber is expected to face the same difficulties being dealt with by House Republicans, as the Democratic minority is strongly opposed to sequestration level appropriations. Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has said he plans to adhere to the statutory spending caps -- $1.017 trillion for discretionary spending. Bipartisan support for appropriations measures will be especially crucial in the Senate, where support from six Democrats is necessary to overcome a potential filibuster and advance legislation. The Obama Administration and congressional Democrats are pushing for another bipartisan budget plan that reduces mandatory spending while providing relief from the sequester. The deadline for passing legislation to keep the government funded is October 1, the start of the next fiscal year.


Adults Failing to Receive Recommended Cancer Screenings


Many U.S. adults are not receiving the recommended screening tests for colorectal, breast, and cervical cancers, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013, screening for these types of cancer dropped below previous rates or showed no improvement. For those patients in the recommended age groups, one in five women reported not being up to date with cervical cancer screenings, one in four were not up to date with breast cancer screenings, and two in five were not up to date with colorectal cancer screenings. While there was no improvement in screening rates for colorectal cancer or mammography screenings, the rate of pap tests was actually lower in 2013 than in 2000. CDC’s analysis shows that 58.2 percent of adults aged 50-75 have been screened for colorectal cancer, 72.6 percent of women aged 50-74 had received a mammogram, and 80.7 percent of women age 21-65 had a pap test in 2013. The CDC report is based on data from the National Health Interview Survey 2013, which is used to monitor progress toward Healthy People 2020 goals for cancer screening based on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines.


Additional Lawmakers Respond to USPSTF Mammography Recommendations


In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) urged HHS to oppose the recommendations from the USPSTF to discourage biennial mammography screenings for women ages 40 to 49. Heitkamp and Wasserman Schultz are both breast cancer survivors. “If the draft recommendations which were released on April 20th are finalized, women ages 40 to 49 who choose routine screening, and those 50 to 74 who want to be screened annually may encounter issues finding an insurance plan which provides this level of coverage, or at the very least be forced to pay more for this added benefit,” the lawmakers write. “The impact of impaired access to breast cancer screening would affect all U.S. women, particularly those in underserved communities who are hardest hit by the disease.” The letter was signed by 62 other members of Congress.



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