Quick Fact: Fearmongering about rationing, Baier falsely claimed a “federal panel” promulgated cervical cancer guidelines

Special Report host Bret Baier falsely claimed that recently released cervical cancer screening guidelines were promulgated by a “federal panel,” adding that those guidelines “open the door to this conversation about rationing.” Additionally, Mara Liasson suggested that that the Senate health care reform bill would implement a task force's recommendations for breast cancer screenings when “writing the basic health care package that insurers who participate in these exchanges are going to offer.”

From the November 20 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: I want to turn to this, the second day in a row that a federal panel has come out with guidelines and recommendations that the White House is not too please about. First we had the mammograms that they said this is not administration policy to move the age up to 50. Now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG advises women to start pap tests for cervical cancer at 21, not 18.


LIASSON: Is ACOG actually a government panel? I think it's more --

BAIER: Independent.

LIASSON: It's, no, well I don't know if it's a government panel, I think the first one was definitely a government panel, the preventative task force--

BAIER: Right, right, right but it opens the door to this conversation about rationing.

LIASSON: There's no doubt. I think the mammogram thing was a huge kinda bowling ball rolling right down towards health reform because it's one of the most emotional issues for women. Breast cancer is the number one concern among women when they are asked to rate what they worry about. And here is the governmental panel, independent but in the Senate bill it says that when it comes to writing the basic health care package that insurers who participate in these exchanges are going to offer they are going to look to panels including this preventative task force and others to decide what should be in the package.

Fact: ACOG is “a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization” that issued nonbinding guidelines unconnected to health reform

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which on November 20 announced new recommendations for cervical cancer screenings, is not a “federal panel.” In fact, it is a private membership organization. From the organization's website:

Founded in 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, ACOG has over 52,000 members and is the nation's leading group of professionals providing health care for women. Now based in Washington, DC, it is a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization.

ACOG works primarily in four areas:

  • Serving as a strong advocate for quality health care for women.
  • Maintaining the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education for its members.
  • Promoting patient education and stimulating patient understanding of and involvement in medical care.
  • Increasing awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care. [ACOG website]

Additionally, the guidelines ACOG issued are nonbinding and a doctor involved in their development reportedly stated they had been “in the works for several years, 'long before the Obama health plan came into existence.'”

Fact: Neither Senate nor House health bills require insurers to adopt recommendations against preventive services

The Senate health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires insurance companies only to cover screenings that the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends, those rated as an A or B recommendation; it does not require insurers to adopt guidelines that recommend against preventive screenings:


(a) IN GENERAL. -- A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements for --

(1) evidence-based items or services that have in effect a rating of 'A' or 'B' in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force

Similarly, the House health care reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, requires insurance companies to cover the A or B recommendations of a new task force, the Task Force on Clinical Preventive Services, but does not require that insurers adopt recommendations against preventive services:



(c) INCLUSION IN ESSENTIAL BENEFITS PACKAGE. -- If, on the basis of the findings of research and demonstration projects under subsection (a) or other sources consistent with section 3131, the Task Force on Clinical Preventive Services determines that a subsidy or reward meets the Task Force's standards for a grade A or B, the Secretary shall ensure that the subsidy or reward is included in the essential benefits package under section 222.