Committee Approves Mensch Bill to Cover Cost of Supplemental Breast Cancer Screenings

Harrisburg – The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 595, legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) to require insurers to cover supplemental screenings for women at high risk for breast cancer, including women with extremely dense breast tissue.

Mensch noted that both cancer and density appear white on a mammogram, so detecting tumors is much more difficult in denser breasts without further screening provided by an ultrasound or an MRI. Women who have extremely dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer. Currently, insurance companies do not cover these extra screening costs for women who are at an increased risk.

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

While about 40 percent of women who get mammograms have dense breast, almost 95 percent of women are unaware of their own breast density, according to a recent poll. Younger women are more at risk since about 50 percent of woman under 50 years of age have dense breast.

The legislation would amend the Insurance Company Law of 1921 and will extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging if a mammogram demonstrates extremely dense breast tissue. This standard is based on the Breast Imagining Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology.

Additionally, insurance coverage will also be extended if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer due to family history or prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other indications.

Senate Bill 595 is supported by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration. 

 

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko, mfetzko@pasen.gov, 717-787-3110