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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2022 08:29 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward and Sen. Devlin J. Robinson, Sen. Tracy Pennycuick
To: All Senate members
Subject: Enhanced Insurance Coverage for Life-Saving BRCA Testing and Breast Cancer Screenings
In the near future, we will introduce legislation which amends the Insurance Company Law to remove out-of-pocket costs associated with genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndromes as well as supplemental breast screenings for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer by combining Senate Bills 1330 and 1225 of last session.  Both bills unanimously passed the Senate last session.

Genetic testing for hereditary cancers is an invaluable tool that often leads to early cancer detection or someone never developing cancer.  The testing provides the opportunity for earlier screenings and preventive treatments and procedures. In addition to early detection for an individual, genetic testing also provides vital information for family members of a person who’s been diagnosed with cancer who could potentially inherit the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation because there is a 50% chance of passing along the gene mutation.
Our legislation will require insurers to cover all costs associated for genetic counseling and genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation if a person is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer or has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.  A diagnosis of certain cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer, as well as a family history of these cancers, are strong indicators that an individual may have a gene mutation associated with a hereditary cancer syndrome.
Our legislation will also require insurers to cover all costs associated with a supplemental breast screening by MRI or Ultrasound for women at increased risk of breast cancer pursuant to Act 52 of 2020, which includes women with known BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. These supplemental screenings are also important for dense breast tissue which appears white like cancerous tumors in a typical mammogram, making it difficult to read and interpret the results. In fact, breast density is one of the strongest predictors of a mammogram failing to detect cancer early, missing at least 40% of tumors in women with extremely dense breasts, a population already at a 4-6 times greater risk of developing breast cancer. Removing patient cost-sharing ensures affordable access for this evidence-based preventive screening that better detects breast cancer early and saves countless lives. 
I hope you will join us in this initiative to better protect the health of Pennsylvanians.

Introduced as SB8