Scavello: Senate Approves Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Act, Improved Breast Cancer Screening Coverage

Harrisburg – Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chair Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) applauded today’s Senate passage of measures to help cancer patients access potentially lifesaving drugs and require insurers to cover supplemental screenings for women at high risk for breast cancer.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved both measures last fall, with his strong support.

Under House Bill 427, the Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Act, health insurance policies that cover treatments for stage four metastatic cancers will not be able to limit or exclude innovative drugs for those patients if the drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this use and are consistent with best practices.

Patients no longer will have to first demonstrate that they failed to respond to a different drug or drugs before they are provided coverage. 

“Metastatic patients experience an expansion of their cancer to new parts and organs in the body. For these patients, time is of the essence, and delays in treatment are matters of life and death,” Scavello said. “I am proud to be a part of moving this important legislation forward and offer help to all those survivors and their families.”

Senate Bill 595 would amend the state Insurance Company Law to extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if a mammogram demonstrates extremely dense breast tissue.

Both cancer and density appear white on a mammogram, so detecting tumors is much more difficult in denser breasts without further screening provided by an ultrasound or an MRI. Women who have extremely dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer. Currently, insurance companies do not cover these extra screening costs for women who are at an increased risk.

Additionally, insurance coverage will also be extended if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer due to family history or prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other indications.

“As Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many breast cancer survivors, including many in my home district — and one, a good friend, Cindy Miller, who worked on my staff and is now Chair of the Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors — who emphasize the importance of early detection,” Scavello said. “Passage of this legislation is the right thing to do on behalf of breast cancer survivors and their families and all those individuals across Pennsylvania who are at a higher risk of having breast cancer.”

House Bill 427 was amended in the Senate and will be returned to the House for concurrence.  Senate Bill 595 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

You can follow Senator Scavello on Twitter and Facebook.


CONTACT: Christine Zubeck (717) 787-6123