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Shaheen, Feinstein, Blackburn Introduce Bill to Protect Access to Breast Cancer Screenings

(Washington, DC) —Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2021, a bill to preserve coverage for routine breast cancer screening for women in their 40s.

The bill extends a congressional moratorium, first passed in 2015, on recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, that would advise women to begin biennial breast cancer screenings at age 50 instead of annual screenings beginning at age 40. The PALS Act delays these recommendations in order to protect insurance coverage of annual breast cancer screenings at no cost for women aged 40 and older. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

“Early detection of breast cancer is critical to saving lives. This year, it’s estimated that about 43,600 American women will lose their lives to breast cancer – a shocking statistic that highlights why we must continue to make access to lifesaving preventive screenings as affordable and accessible as possible,” said Senator Shaheen. “The PALS Act is important legislation that would ensure that women as young as 40 can get mammograms without worrying about costly deductibles or cost-sharing. I urge Senators on both sides of the aisle to support our commonsense bipartisan effort to protect the health of women.”

Full text of the legislation is available here.

The bill is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Radiology, American Women Unite for Breast Cancer Screening, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Breast Care of Washington, Check for a Lump, DenseBreast-Info, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Men Supporting Women With Cancer, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Black Nurses Association, National Consortium of Breast Centers, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Servicewomen’s Action Network, Sharsheret, Society of Breast Imaging, Society of Breast Imaging, Susan G. Komen and the Tigerlily Foundation.

Last year, CBS This Morning’s series “Medical Price Roulette” featured Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) legislation that looked at surprise health care costs associated with breast cancer screenings. 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.