A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
There are an estimated 15,000 women diagnosed each year with breast cancer in New York.
According the American Cancer Society, an estimated 90 out of 100 women survive breast cancer for five years or more after being diagnosed but we need to do more to improve those rates with early detection.
In this legislative session, we passed a bill that will increase access to screenings and remove financial barriers.
The bill was signed into law late last month and I was pleased to support this measure in the Assembly earlier this year.
Breast cancer touches so many lives, from the one who is diagnosed to the caring people around them.
Early detection is critical to fighting it and improving survival rates.
Doctors know so much more and technology has come so far but neither doctors nor the diagnostic tools they use can be effective if people are not screened.
Getting screened regularly for breast cancer increases the chance of detecting breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is proven most effective.
In 2014, however, nearly 22% of women in New York aged 50-74 reported not having mammograms at least every other year.
When the state looked into why women were missing their screenings, the most common reasons were the cost of the preventative screenings and taking time off of work to get screened.
The new law, which mainly goes into effect January 1, 2017, prohibits cost sharing for mammograms and eliminates deductibles, co-pays, and other insurance costs associated with breast cancer screenings.
It also prohibits cost sharing for screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and breast MRIs.
As part of the new law, hospitals and clinics that are certified as a mammography facilities will have extended hours for screenings to make it easier for people to attend screenings before or after their workday or on the weekend.
Extended hours could be offered between 7 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays or on weekends between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for at least four hours each week.
To search a list of federally approved mammography facilities go to http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfMQSA/mqsa.cfm
Providing more hours during times when patients are not at work provides more of an opportunity for patients to be screened.
Patient navigators will be provided so patients clearly understand their treatment options.
Mobile mammography vans are also planned to be made available to women.
This law will go far to help more health care providers detect this disease early on which increases the chances of treatments being effective and, ultimately, saves more lives.
By removing barriers to screenings and making them more available and affordable, more women can be proactive in protecting their health and, hopefully, living longer lives.
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.