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Senator Michael Testa

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Testa/Simonsen/McClellan Introduce Bill to Help Fight Breast Cancer

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Health Insurers Would be Required to Pay for Mammograms Ordered by Physicians Regardless of Age of Patient

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Senator Michael Testa and Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan introduced legislation that will help fight the disease in New Jersey by requiring health benefits plans to cover the cost of a mammogram if a healthcare provider recommends that examination.

Senator Testa and Assemblymen Simonsen and McClellan introduced legislation that will help fight breast cancer by requiring health benefits plans to cover the cost of a mammogram if a healthcare provider recommends that examination.

“I can’t imagine the panic, distress and worry a woman must feel when an employee at an insurance company rejects a procedure to diagnose cancer prescribed by a doctor,” said Testa (R-1). “This bill ensures medical experts can exercise their specialized skills to diagnose and treat breast cancer without interference from insurers more concerned about the bottom line than saving lives.”

The bill is named “Michelle’s Law” in memory of Michelle Devita, a 38-year-old mother of two from Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, who died in 2019 after a courageous battle with breast cancer.

Almost 8,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the state, and breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American women, trailing only lung cancer.

“It is incumbent on each of us in the legislature to exercise our power to increase the survivability of a breast cancer diagnosis and improve the quality of life for victims,” said Testa. “Mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer and screening can allow the earlier detection of cancer, reducing the need for chemotherapy and more aggressive treatments.”

Presently, health benefit plans are only required to cover mammograms for women who are 40 and over or women under the age of 40 if they have a family history of breast cancer or other breast cancer related risk factor.

“Cancer can happen to anyone,” said Simonsen (R-Cape May).  “The disease is difficult enough without the indignity of worrying about how to pay for treatment.  Young women fighting the disease shouldn’t be treated any differently by insurance companies.”

Under the First Legislative District bill, which will be introduced Thursday, health benefit plans will be required to cover the cost of a mammogram examination, and any additional testing after the examination, if the health care provider of the subscriber or other person covered under the plan recommends it. Mammograms for women 40 and over will still be covered under this bill.

“Although most young patients with breast cancer are insured, far too many are denied coverage,” said McClellan (R-Cape May), “Black women face a higher risk of dying from breast cancer despite similar rates, and this disparity is especially high among younger women.”

Reports show that Black women under age 40 have higher rates of breast cancer compared to white women. And Black women under age 35 are diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate two times higher than white women and die from breast cancer three times as often as white women.

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