Shaheen, McSally Introduce Bill to Improve Breast Cancer Screening Options for U.S. Service members and their Families

November 22, 2019

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to provide female U.S. service members and their families with improved breast cancer screenings. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  

The Better and Robust Screening Today Act requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to cover the most effective breast cancer screening option: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, also known as DBT or 3D mammography. DBT is already covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and almost all other traditional health care plans. Currently, DoD only covers DBT as a secondary option, after there is an issue with the first, traditional scan. 

“Expanding access to the latest advances in preventive cancer screenings could mean the difference between life and death for some Americans. Improving this access for our service members is a no brainer and I’m proud to stand with Senator McSally in this bipartisan effort,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would provide an important fix to our health care system by requiring the Department of Defense to cover 3D mammography as an option for preventive breast cancer screening. 3D mammography can provide superior detection of breast cancer, which is critical to beating this devastating disease. This bill is an important way to help ensure our servicewomen have coverage to seek the preventive screenings they need.” 

"Servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much and deserve the best health care and technology available,” said McSally. “There is simply no good reason to deny DBT screening, the latest breast cancer imaging technology, to Tricare patients. As a female veteran myself, I am proud to lead this bicameral, bipartisan bill to expand Tricare coverage for our heroes and their families."

The number of women in the Armed Forces continues to grow at a rapid pace. In 1973, at the end of the draft, women represented a mere 2 percent of the enlisted forces and 8 percent of the officer corps. Today, those numbers have significantly increased to 16 percent and 18 percent respectively. 

U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Bill text of the Better and Robust Screening Today Act is available here.

On September 30th, Shaheen and McSally led a bipartisan letter urging DoD to expand and improve breast cancer screening coverage options for female service members and their families.