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House passes Senate Bill 595, requiring PA insurers to cover breast cancer screenings for women with high-risk conditions

The bill, which passed through the House unanimously, now goes to the desk of Governor Tom Wolf
Pennsylvania State Capitol (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania House voted unanimously Thursday to pass Senate Bill 595, legislation requiring Pennsylvania insurers to cover breast cancer screenings, including MRIs and ultrasounds, for women with very dense breasts and other high-risk conditions.

The legislation's passage was announced by the PA Breast Cancer Coalition in a press release.

Senate Bill 595, sponsored by Senator Bob Mensch (R-24), covers breast cancer screenings for women with the following criteria:

  • High-risk factors for breast cancer such as personal history, family history or a genetic predisposition
  • Extremely dense breast tissue
  • Heterogeneously dense breast tissue with one other high-risk factor for breast cancer

Nearly 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue, which makes it harder to detect breast cancer on a mammogram. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that MRI detects 2.5 times more breast cancers than even 3D mammograms in women with dense breasts. For many women, however, screening options like MRIs are not covered. Senate Bill 595 will require insurers to cover those additional screenings for women insured under PA law.

“Every woman deserves the best breast cancer screening that is available and Senate Bill 595 is a significant step toward recognizing breast density as an increased risk factor,” said SB 595 prime sponsor PA Sen. Bob Mensch. I am confident that this legislation will make a difference in the lives of many affected by this terrible disease.”

Now, Senate Bill 595 goes to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature. When it becomes law, Pennsylvania will be one of only a few states to require insurance coverage of supplemental breast cancer screenings like MRI and ultrasound.

“Thank you to our Senate Bill 595 champion, Sen. Bob Mensch and to all of our state senators and representatives for recognizing the urgent need for insurance coverage of MRIs and ultrasounds -- potentially life-saving breast cancer screenings,” said PA Breast Cancer Coalition President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “We are so very grateful to Governor Wolf for making Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to offer FREE 3D screening mammograms at no cost to PA women. Now, we are asking the governor to take the next step by providing affordable access to early detection for breast cancer by signing Senate Bill 595 into law. Early detection saves lives!”

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