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Introduction of Breast Imaging Legislation Will Benefit Thousands of Vermonters

Susan G. Komen® Commends Bill Introductions; Urges Quick Passage

MONTPELIER – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, commends Representative Melanie Carpenter (D-Hyde Park) and Representative Laura Sibilia (I-Dover) for working with Komen to eliminate financial barriers to earlier breast cancer detection by ensuring that everyone has equitable access to diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging.

In 2024, more than 630 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 80 will die of the disease in Vermont alone. The exorbitant out-of-pocket costs associated with essential breast imaging procedures ranging from hundreds-to-thousands of dollars, often force individuals into the difficult decision of skipping these tests or making significant financial sacrifices.  

“Nobody should have to forego a test that helps to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy because of the cost, yet thousands of people in Vermont are doing it every year,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “This bill will provide pivotal access to diagnostic and supplemental imaging so that individuals can get the care they need without having to endure undue financial burden. It is an important step toward equitable access to care, potentially saving lives by facilitating early detection and treatment.”

H. 621 introduced by Rep. Carpenter and Rep. Sibilia, eliminates the patient out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging including MRIs, ultrasounds and diagnostic mammograms. While no-cost mammograms are currently available to women, when a mammogram reveals an abnormality, diagnostic and supplemental imaging is necessary to give medical providers a closer look at the abnormality and determine if a biopsy is needed. The high out-of-pockets costs for the follow-up imaging deters many individuals in Vermont from getting it, and as a result, breast cancer can be diagnosed at a later stage.

“Diagnostic breast imaging is an important tool in detecting cancer and should be available to all Vermonters who need it. Cost should not prohibit people from accessing potentially life-saving care,” said Rep. Carpenter. “I am thankful for the opportunity to work with Representative Sibilia and others to find solutions.”

An estimated 12% of individuals are called back for additional imaging after an abnormal screening mammogram and require diagnostic imaging. This diagnostic or supplemental imaging is often crucial for individuals previously diagnosed with breast cancer or those considered high-risk. The cost creates inequities in care and imposes additional financial barriers for these patients.

“I’m pleased to be able to work with Rep. Carpenter, and other members of the Vermont House to bring forward legislation that will reduce barriers for all Vermonters in need of a timely diagnosis,” said Rep. Laura Sibilia

Despite significant advancements in breast cancer screening and diagnostics over the past 30 years, disparities persist across demographics. Evidence shows that Black and Hispanic breast cancer patients tend to be diagnosed at a later stage, potentially due to delays in follow-up imaging after abnormal findings on an annual mammogram.

A Komen-commissioned study found out-of-pockets costs for patients to range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $1,000 for a breast MRI. Additionally, a recent study published in Radiology found that 1 in 5 patients said they would not go in for recommended follow-up imaging if they had to pay a deductible.