Shaheen & Blunt Introduce Bill to Make Breast Cancer Diagnostic Tests More Accessible & AffordableApril 13, 2021
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) reintroduced the bipartisan Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act. The legislation would make breast cancer diagnostic tests more accessible and affordable by eliminating copays and other out-of-pocket expenses for these diagnostic tests.
“Detecting and treating breast cancer as quickly as possible saves lives. No one should ever forgo a screening because of cost,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to require health insurance to cover diagnostic breast cancer testing as they do other preventative screenings. I’ll keep working in the Senate to make sure lifesaving health care is affordable and accessible for Granite State families.”
Under current law, insurance companies are required to provide no-cost coverage for breast cancer screenings, but not diagnostic testing. If the initial screening shows that a patient may have breast cancer, further testing, including mammograms, MRIs and ultrasounds, may be needed to make a diagnosis. Regular diagnostic testing may also be recommended for patients who have had a prior breast cancer diagnosis. An estimated 10% of screening mammograms require follow-up diagnostic testing.
The current disparity between screening and diagnostic coverage can result in patients having to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, creating a significant barrier to care. The unexpected costs can increase the likelihood that people with the disease will avoid or delay treatment, allowing the cancer to progress and reducing the survival rate.
The bill is supported by Susan G. Komen®. Full text of the legislation is available here.
Last year, CBS This Morning’s series “Medical Price Roulette” featured Shaheen and Blunt’s legislation in a piece that looked at surprise health care costs associated with breast cancer screenings. CBS News National Consumer Investigative Correspondent Anna Werner sat down with Shaheen and Blunt to discuss their bipartisan bill. Senator Shaheen has a history of working across the aisle to increase access to preventative screenings. In January 2020, in response to a bipartisan call from Senator Shaheen and former Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) – and following the introduction of their bipartisan legislation to address the issue – the Department of Defense agreed to expand TRICARE coverage to include 3D mammography, which is the most effective breast cancer screening option.
Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to expand access to quality and affordable health care. Shaheen successfully included in the American Rescue Plan premium tax credit enhancement provisions from her legislation, the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act, which will expand coverage to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured and reduce health care costs for millions of additional individuals who already have coverage, which is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates indicate Shaheen’s provision will lead to a more than 37 percent reduction in monthly premium costs, on average. Senator Shaheen also spearheaded Senate Democrats’ proposal to make health care affordable and accessible for Americans during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
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