Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today introduced the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2021, a bill to preserve coverage for routine breast cancer screening for women in their 40s.
The bill extends a congressional moratorium, first passed in 2015, on recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, that would advise women to begin biennial breast cancer screenings at age 50 instead of annual screenings beginning at age 40. The PALS Act delays these recommendations in order to protect insurance coverage of annual breast cancer screenings at no cost for women aged 40 and older.
The PALS Act is cosponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
“Finding breast cancer early through screening has helped reduce breast cancer deaths among women,” said Senator Feinstein. “Access to no-cost screenings – including for women in their 40s – is critical to continue the fight against this terrible disease. Notably, there was a significant decline in breast cancer screening during the pandemic. As we get back to regular doctor visits, our bill would ensure the cost of getting screened isn’t a barrier that further delays women from seeking preventive care.”
“Breast cancer is far too common a disease. One woman out of eight will develop some form of breast cancer during her life, so most of us know firsthand how devastating it can be for our families and friends. By making these screenings available during an age in which this disease can be most aggressive, it is possible to save the lives of so many sisters, daughters, mothers and even grandmothers,” said Senator Blackburn.
“Early detection of breast cancer is critical to saving lives. This year, it’s estimated that about 43,600 American women will lose their lives to breast cancer – a shocking statistic that highlights why we must continue to make access to lifesaving preventive screenings as affordable and accessible as possible,” said Senator Shaheen. “The PALS Act is important legislation that would ensure that women as young as 40 can get mammograms without worrying about costly deductibles or cost-sharing. I urge Senators on both sides of the aisle to support our commonsense bipartisan effort to protect the health of women.”
Full text of the legislation is available here.
The bill is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Radiology, American Women Unite for Breast Cancer Screening, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Breast Care of Washington, Check for a Lump, DenseBreast-Info, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Men Supporting Women With Cancer, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Black Nurses Association, National Consortium of Breast Centers, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Servicewomen’s Action Network, Sharsheret, Society of Breast Imaging, Society of Breast Imaging, Susan G. Komen, Tigerlily Foundation and the American Society of Breast Surgeons.