WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Jeanne
Shaheen (N.H.) announced that they have introduced the bipartisan Access to
Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act. The legislation would make breast cancer
diagnostic tests more accessible and affordable.
“Early breast cancer detection saves lives,” said Blunt.
“Unfortunately, many Americans had to postpone preventive care - including
breast cancer screenings - because of the pandemic. With experts warning there
could be a spike in demand for care for health conditions that went undiagnosed
or untreated during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to address the
disparity in cost coverage for diagnostic screenings. Eliminating barriers that
prevent patients from getting their diagnosis confirmed will allow them to
start treatment as soon as possible, leading to lower treatment costs and, most
importantly, better outcomes.”
“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
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
A study published last August in the Journal of the American
Medical Association found that diagnoses for six types of cancer dropped in
March and April of 2020. The largest decrease occurred in the weekly number of
breast cancer diagnoses, which were down nearly 52%.
The bill is supported by Susan G. Komen®.