Senate Committee Votes to Remove Out-of-Pocket Costs for Life-Saving Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer Screenings

HARRISBURG—Today Chairman John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) convened a meeting of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to consider three bills, two of which would remove out-of-pocket costs associated with genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome as well as supplemental breast screenings for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Senate Bill 1330, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), requires health insurance policies to cover, without patient cost-sharing, genetic counseling and genetic testing for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations which are shown to increase a person’s chance of developing one of many hereditary cancers in his or her lifetime.

“Advancing this legislation from committee puts us one step closer to providing more resources for high-risk individuals to take proactive steps to monitor their potential for breast and ovarian cancer by removing the financial burden, said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward. “This legislation requires insurance coverage for genetic counseling and genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRACA 2 gene mutation if a person is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer or had a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.”

Approximately 13% of all women will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives while up to 75% of women who inherit a BRCA gene mutation will develop breast cancer according to Penn Medicine’s Basser Center for BRCA. Men with BRCA mutations are also at increased risk of hereditary cancers, as nearly 25% will develop prostate cancer.

“Early Detection Save Lives, added Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward. “As an individual who benefited from genetic testing, I can say this legislation will go a long way in helping individuals to remain vigilant about getting regular testing or help best determine treatment.”

Genetic testing is an important life-saving tool that often allows for earlier cancer screenings and preventive treatments and procedures. Senator Ward’s legislation removes any out-of-pocket cost barriers for individuals at increased risk of BRCA mutations based on clinical risk assessment tools as well as a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Senate Bill 1225, sponsored by Senator Mensch (R-Montgomery), requires health insurance policies to cover, without patient cost-sharing, an annual supplemental breast screening for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. The legislation builds upon Act 52 of 2020 which had secured coverage for breast MRIs by eliminating patient copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for this preventive screening. This supplemental screening is necessary because of failed early detection by screening mammography among women with dense breasts and those at high lifetime risk of breast cancer.

“All of us know someone whose life has been negatively impacted by breast cancer,” said Senator Mensch. “Research and experience tell us that the best way to have a fighting chance at beating this deadly disease is knowing the risk factors and early detection. Both bills remove barriers to early detection experienced by thousands of Pennsylvanians, and today’s vote signals another monumental step taken by this Legislature to fight, and hopefully eventually eliminate, breast cancer.”

“Identifying those susceptible to hereditary cancers and routine screening of all those at increased risk will help beat cancer early and before symptoms develop,” said Chairman DiSanto. “By removing out-of-pocket costs for preventive healthcare services such as genetic testing and breast MRIs, we ensure all have affordable access to this lifesaving care.”

Senate Bill 1330 and Senate Bill 1225 now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT:

For Senator DiSanto, Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801

For Senator Ward, Erica Clayton-Wright ewright@pasen.gov (717) 787-6063

For Senator Mensch, Lisa Walter lwalter@pasen.gov (215) 541-2388