The Honorable Pete Stark
U.S. House of Representatives
239 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Stark:
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) endorses your legislation, H.R. 1968, the Medicare Preventive Care Improvement Act of 1999, which would permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine what preventive services would be covered by the Medicare program. Currently, Congress makes such decisions.
In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress expanded Medicare coverage to include a number of preventive services, such as prostate cancer screening, colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement tests, annual mammography testing, diabetes self management and training services, and increased coverage for Pap smear and pelvic exams. AACC supported these actions. However, we believe it is inefficient for Congress to set Medicare preventive coverage policy test by test.
Instead, AACC urges Congress to establish the criterion necessary for making such coverage decisions and leave the specific details regarding what items are covered to HHS. We believe that H.R. 1968, if enacted, would meet this need. This bill would grant HHS the flexibility to determine which preventive items would be covered and the requisite payment amounts for such services. When making such a decision, however, HHS would be required to consider whether the service improves the health of the individuals and provides cost savings to the Medicare program. Thus, AACC urges Congress to enact this measure.
By way of background, AACC is the principal association of professional laboratory scientists--including MDs, PhDs and medical technologists. AACC's members develop and use chemical concepts, procedures, techniques and instrumentation in health-related investigations and work in hospitals, independent laboratories and the diagnostics industry nationwide. The AACC's objectives are to further the public interest and educational activities and to help maintain high professional standards.
If you have any questions or we may be of any assistance, please call me at (405) 271-3571 or Vince Stine, Director, Government Affairs, at (202) 835-8721.
K. Michael Parker, PhD