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Current Policy Priority Successful Effort

Breast Screenings Preserved for Women Ages 40-49

Screening & Prevention

January 2021 - Hereditary cancers are often diagnosed at younger ages and are more aggressive than cancers in the average-risk population. Earlier screening is needed for women with inherited genetic mutations associated with increased risk of cancer, Black women and women who were treated with radiation therapy for cancer as a child or young adult. This is why we supported the reauthorization of two important laws—the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screening (PALS) Act and the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act.

Passed in December 2020, the PALS Act (H.R. 2777) extends legislation originally enacted in 2015 to protect access to screening mammograms for women ages 40-49. The PALS Act is needed because it suspends the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines, which do not recommend annual screening mammograms until age 50. This moratorium reflects numerous medical professional society guidelines that conflict with the USPSTF and ensures continued access to potentially lifesaving breast screening for women starting at age 40. Due to the PALS Act, approximately 22 million women ages 40-49 are guaranteed access to mammograms with no insurance copay. The reauthorization ensures that this will continue until 2023.

Also successfully passed, the EARLY Act (H.R. 4078) reauthorizes and increases funding which was initially approved in 2010. This law supports the education of younger (ages 45 and under) and higher risk women about their breast health and breast cancer risks. It also funds initiatives and research to help identify high-risk women, collect family histories and educate health care providers. Learning what factors increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer is an important first step in assessing risk. We know that early education, awareness and breast screening can save lives.

We appreciate your support in advocating for these important pieces of legislation!

It is important to note that women at increased risk of breast cancer due to an inherited genetic mutation or family history of the disease often need earlier, more intensive screening. For instance, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend that women with a BRCA mutation begin screening with an annual breast MRI starting at age 25. See the Risk Management Guidelines for more information as recommendations vary for different hereditary mutations.

Take Action Now 2021 Priorities Advocacy Archive Public Policy Initiatives

News Briefs

3/31/2021 - Expressed support for legislation (S.5355/A.2151) that would establish genetic counseling as a licensed profession in the state of New York.

3/16/2021 - Signed on in support of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021 (H.R. 1946), which will give CMS authority to cover blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests and future test methods (like urine or hair tests), once approved by the FDA.

2/17/2021 - In a letter to President Biden, underscored the urgency of prioritizing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for patients with active cancer and survivors of cancer.

2/4/2021 - Joined a group of 75 orgs in a letter to HHS expressing concern that new Medicare Payment Modernization models proposed by the prior administration could jeopardize access to medically necessary prescription drugs and harm patients with serious illnesses.

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Paying for Service
  • Visit our section on Insurance & Paying for Care to learn more about coverage of cancer screenings such as mammograms and breast MRIs.
  • If your insurance company denies coverage of recommended screenings, visit the Health Insurance Appeals section of our website for guidance and resources.
  • Patient Advocate Foundation provides case managers who help identify financial assistance programs and resources for those facing challenges.