Organization praises Georgia senator for cancer-related legislation

The Albany Herald, Ga.
·3 min read

Feb. 20—DALLAS — Susan G. Komen, the world's leading breast cancer organization, praised Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, for her leadership on important diagnostic breast imaging legislation, Senate Bill 103. The legislation would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic breast imaging following an abnormal mammogram result or other medically necessary purpose.

"This legislation is an important step forward for women in Georgia," Molly Guthrie, senior director of public policy and advocacy at Susan G. Komen, said in a news release. "We see first-hand that women face hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for needed diagnostic imaging. As a result, many women do not seek care until the cancer has spread — making it deadlier and more expensive to treat. A woman should not have to choose between paying her electric bill or getting a medically necessary ultrasound. This life-saving legislation will ensure timely access to diagnosis and treatment."

Millions of women throughout the United States can access free, preventive screening mammography under the Affordable Care Act. However, if the results of a mammogram reveal an abnormality, follow-up diagnostic exams (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) are needed to determine if the patient has breast cancer. Those exams can be expensive and require high out-of-pocket costs — all before treatment even begins. An estimated 12 percent of patients who receive annual screening mammograms get called back for diagnostic imaging. In Georgia, 8,770 women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 and 1,410 will die of the disease this year alone.

"Breast cancer is not just for women but all genders, and it is more serious now than ever before," James said. "We need to make sure that we focus on this issue, on treatment, and on prevention."

A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients for diagnostic tests range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to $1,021 for a breast MRI. Out-of-pocket costs are particularly burdensome to those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, as diagnostic tests are often recommended rather than traditional screening mammography.

"Facing a potential breast cancer diagnosis is scary enough without the added stress of steep out-of-pocket costs for the tests that detect whether cancer is present," state Sen. Michael Rhett, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. "It is vitally important that women are able to get the answers they need and in a timely fashion so that they can begin treatment. I am pleased to join Sen. James on this important piece of legislation."

Susan G. Komen is the world's leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has a comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide. Founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy's life, Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer. Visit komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN for additional information.