Health care advocates, cancer survivors and state legislators gathered at Yale-New Haven Hospital recently to brief the public about a new law requiring health insurers to cover the costs of Ultrasounds for cancer screening for women with dense breast tissue.
For women identified as having dense breast tissue, an ultrasound is recommended to detect abnormalities that may be masked by the tissue and missed by the mammogram. Those ultrasounds are not covered in the same way mammograms are and as a result many patients forgo this screening because they have to meet high deductibles or pay out of pocket for the procedure.
Based on legislation championed by former Gov. Jodi Rell years ago Connecticut was the first state in the nation to require notification to women with dense breasts that they can benefit from an ultrasound as well as the mammogram, and this is now a national requirement. However, advocates say the state fell behind in the actual coverage for this test.
This is legislation that had been worked on for years by many legislators, and this year Borer submitted a bill to push it over the finish line. It passed unanimously through the Insurance Committee and was incorporated into the budget signed by Governor Lamont in recent weeks.
“I am one of those women with dense breast who require an ultrasound coupled with my mammogram,” said Rep. Borer. “It’s appalling that because of the cost, many women need to forgo this test. This legislation is exactly the type of tangible, concrete step we need in order to eliminate inequities in healthcare and bridge the difference between those who have and those that have not”.
Borer invited Nancy Cusano Tagliatela, a West Haven resident who is a Breast Cancer survivor to attend the conference which was held at Yale’s Women’s Center.
“Having been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November 2015, I know the importance of early detection and being pro-active. When you have the unnecessary stress of wondering how to pay for these scans, you end up not following-up which, in the long run, creates an even bigger problem. Thank you to all the legislators and advocates who worked on this bill and my own State Rep. Dorinda Borer for not giving up until this passed. So many lives will now be saved; and for that, I will be forever grateful.”
“I’m so impressed but not surprised that Nancy had the courage to stand up at a press conference amongst all the Yale leaders and senators to share her story,” said Borer. “She’s a true advocate and remarkable role model.”
Joe Cappello and his wife Nancy (who passed away earlier this year from complications of breast cancer) started the CT organization “Are you Dense, Inc.” many years ago.
“This is a wonderful day for women in the great state of Connecticut,” said Cappello. “With the passage of this legislation women across the state will finally be able to avail themselves to screening tools. Women with dense breast tissue will be screened properly and in a timely manner which will facilitate finding breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. We have been trying for 10 years to get this legislation passed and we thank everyone involved and especially Rep.Borer from West Haven for finally getting us over the finish line.”
In accordance with this new law that takes effect Jan. 1 health insurers will be prohibited from charging coinsurance, copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses for breast ultrasounds and mammograms.