Seawright’s 3-D Mammography Screening Bill Signed into Law

Legislation to ensure access to early breast cancer detection

New York, N.Y. – Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright announced that A.5677/S.4150, legislation which would expand access to breast cancer screenings without cost sharing, to include breast tomosynthesis screenings also known as 3-D mammography, was signed into law today by Governor Cuomo. In March 2017, Seawright obtained passage of this bill 146-0 in the Assembly and in June 2017 the bill was passed in the Senate by Senator Joseph Griffo.

Breast tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography uses x-rays to collect multiple images of the breast from several angles and creates a 3-D image of the breast. Studies have shown that it is more effective in detecting cancer in dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is one of the strongest predictors of risk for breast cancer.

“It is important to continue to expand access to breast cancer screenings and New York State is a leader in this movement. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in New York State. Each year in New York, over 15,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. This bill clarifies that insurers would cover 3-D mammograms without co-pays or deductibles. Early detection is critical. At the time when the federal climate is stripping women’s health coverage, the local government must act, and we did,” said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright (D- Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island).

“A breast cancer diagnosis can have a significant, life-changing impact on the lives of women and men and their families,” said Senator Joseph Griffo (R-Rome). “We must ensure that women and men have access to the best methods available when it comes to getting screened for breast cancer. Now, they will have another tool to better protect them from this horrible disease. I appreciate the Governor signing my legislation into law and for seeing what a valuable resource 3-D mammography can be.”

“Today we made early detection of breast cancer more possible for millions of New Yorkers. This action assures that insurance coverage for tomosynthesis, a proven diagnostic treatment for detecting breast cancer, will now be protected by the law. Up to now, insurance coverage was not clear, in fact many carriers refused coverage for this life saving test. Confusion persisted even after the New York State Department of Financial Services put out guidance declaring it a covered procedure. Now, thanks to the good work of Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright and the patient advocates she worked so closely with, access to the test will be available in all appropriate circumstances. It is this kind of activism and advocacy for which the State Assembly stands for,” stated Assembly Member Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Standing Committee on Insurance.

"Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) provides higher cancer detection rates and fewer patient callbacks for additional testing, saving time and reducing stress for patients as well as reducing the costs of multiple screenings. The passage of this legislation means that more women will have access to this potentially life-saving cancer screening," said Dr. Elizabeth Morris, Chief, Breast Imaging Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“3-D mammography has been shown in recent studies to find more cancers than more traditional forms of breast screening, as well as resulting in fewer false positive test results. A false positive result can create an extreme physical and psychological toll on the patient, as well as creating the need for further testing. I am pleased to be a sponsor on this bill because it will require insurers in New York to cover this procedure, which is rapidly gaining popularity in the medical community, and which is proving to be a more reliable form of screening for breast cancer,” said Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi(D – Utica).

"Today is a momentous day for the people of the state of New York," said Dr. Christy Gamble, Director of Health Policy and Legislative Affairs at the Black Women's Health Imperative. "At a time when we are urging federal policymakers to ensure all people, regardless of their income, health status, or geographic location have access to affordable, quality health coverage, it's comforting to know that there are state policymakers, such as Assemblywoman Seawright, who are fighting to remove the barriers to life-saving health care for residents of their state. Although the incidence of breast cancer is nearly the same, Black women have a 41% higher rate of mortality from breast cancer when compared to their White counterparts. In addition, Black women tend to have much denser breast tissue, which is a strong predictor of breast cancer. This law will expand access to breast tomosynthesis (or 3D mammography), an innovative technology that has the potential to save the lives of many women by providing an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. This is especially true for women with dense breast tissue. Early detection remains the key to improving breast cancer survival rates for Black women and all women in the state of New York."