Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday sent a bill to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk that they say will save lives by helping patients afford additional screenings to diagnose breast cancer more quickly.
Shapiro, a Democrat, has said he will sign it. The bill passed the state House of Representatives unanimously after it won unanimous approval in the state Senate last month.
Under the bill, health insurers must cover out-of-pocket costs for patients who are deemed to be at risk for breast cancer when they undergo a supplemental, or second, screening for the disease during a coverage year.
Insurers also must cover patients’ costs for genetic counseling and genetic testing for the gene mutations that raise the risk of breast cancer if a person is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer or has a family history.
Those out-of-pocket costs — such as copays, coinsurance, lab fees and deductibles — can run into the thousands, according to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. State insurance laws, however, do not necessarily apply to all insurance policies, such as self-insurance, and insurers may only cover tests in certain situations.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said she protectively had both breasts removed after learning that she had tested positive for inherited mutations that raise the risk of breast cancer.
A number of other states already require states to cover cost-sharing of the procedures. Tennessee lawmakers passed similar breast-cancer screening legislation last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while Missouri and Montana lawmakers are working to pass bills this year.