Urges Bipartisan Support and Swift Passage, Allowing Women Access to Life-Saving Diagnostic Exams
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Dinah Sykes (D-KS District 21) and Representative Gail Finney (D-KS District 84) for their leadership on vitally important diagnostic breast imaging legislation. The proposed bills would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic breast imaging following an abnormal mammogram result or other medically-necessary purposes.
“This legislation is an important step forward for women in Kansas,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “We see first-hand that women face hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for needed diagnostic imaging. As a result, many women do not seek care until the cancer has spread – making it deadlier and more expensive to treat. A woman should not have to choose between paying her electric bill or getting a medically-necessary ultrasound. This life-saving legislation will ensure timely access to diagnosis and treatment.”
Millions of women throughout the United States can access free, preventive screening mammography under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, if the results of a mammogram reveal an abnormality, follow-up diagnostic exams (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) are needed to determine if the patient has breast cancer. Those exams can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs – all before treatment even begins. An estimated 12 percent of patients who receive annual screening mammograms get called back for diagnostic imaging. In Kansas, 2,380 women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, and an estimated 180 will die of the disease this year alone.
“Providing coverage for diagnostic imaging to screen for breast cancer is not only the right thing to do; it makes good economic sense,” said Senator Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa). “Diagnostic imaging empowers patients and physicians by providing them with as much information as possible on unusual changes. When this results in a cancer diagnosis, these exams save lives by catching the cancer sooner rather than later. This leads to better health outcomes and lower costs for patients and their families.”
“No one should ever feel pressured to forgo a necessary cancer screening because they can’t afford it,” said Representative Gail Finney (D-Wichita). Lowering health care costs and increasing access to critical services must be our top priorities, and this bill helps make important progress on that effort.”
A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients for diagnostic tests range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to $1,021 for a breast MRI. Out-of-pocket costs are particularly burdensome to those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, as diagnostic tests are often recommended rather than traditional screening mammography.