Komen Urges Congress to Pass Legislation Quickly so Women Can Access Life-Saving Diagnostic Exams
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today applauded U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for introducing legislation that would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for diagnostic breast imaging.
The Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) Act, S. 1067, would eliminate financial barriers that prevent women from getting the vitally important diagnostic imaging tests needed to confirm the presence of breast cancer. While screening mammograms look for breast cancer in patients who don’t have symptoms, diagnostic imaging provides a deeper, detailed look at a patient’s breasts to evaluate signs or symptoms of breast cancer such as a mass, palpable lump, nipple discharge, unusual breast pain or skin changes that may have been discovered on a screening mammogram, through a clinical exam by a health care provider or by a patient themself. These tests can cost patients hundreds to thousands of dollars and removing these out-of-pocket costs is a top legislative priority for Susan G. Komen.
“We see first-hand women who are unable to afford basic testing to determine if they have breast cancer and that is simply unacceptable,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Blunt and Shaheen who are working to eliminate barriers to care so that anyone who needs diagnostic imaging can get it and afford it and begin treatment as soon as possible if they have breast cancer.”
Millions of women throughout the United States can access free, screening mammography under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Increased access to screening mammograms has allowed us to make significant progress in detecting breast abnormalities, but they alone are not enough. Follow-up diagnostic imaging (such as an MRI, ultrasound or diagnostic mammogram) is the only way to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. The systematic use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics has led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 20 years and, as a result, more lives have been saved.
The introduction of the ABCD Act comes as the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy and more than 250 breast cancer survivors, patients and advocates are virtually meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ask for their support on issues that are important to women and men impacted by breast cancer.
“Early breast cancer detection saves lives,” said Blunt. “Unfortunately, many Americans had to postpone 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 imaging. Eliminating barriers that prevent patients from getting their diagnoses 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 test 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 for screening mammograms. I’ll keep working in the Senate to make sure lifesaving health care is affordable and accessible for Granite State families.”
In addition to support for the ABCD Act, Komen patient advocates this week called on lawmakers to prioritize:
- Funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at $275 million in FY22. The program ensures access to early detection and breast cancer services for uninsured and underinsured Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid.
- The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act (H.R.379/S.104), which will create a program within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to improve analyze the social factors that impact our health, including housing conditions, employment status, food security, environmental safety, educational opportunity and medical racism, and fund programs to address them.
Susan G. Komen is asking everyone to take action on legislation that will benefit the breast cancer community. Contact your lawmakers today and urge them to take action on these critical issues.