Singleton, Mukherji, Benson & Lampitt Bill to Require Health Insurance Providers to Cover the Use of 3-D Mammography for Breast Cancer Screening Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Raj Mukherji, Dan Benson & Pamela Lampitt to require health insurers, SHBP and SEHBP to cover digital tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor.

Digital tomosynthesis, also sometimes called 3-D mammography, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create the final 3-D picture. Conventional mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, while tomosynthesis provides multiple pictures of breast tissue as the scanner moves in an arc. The difference between the images produced by tomosynthesis and conventional mammography has been described as being akin to a three dimensional ball versus a flat circle. 

"If there is a more precise way to screen and diagnose breast cancer, then we should begin making it available to all women through their health benefits," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Breast cancer can be curable if detected early. Women and their families should be allowed access to the medical resources necessary to diagnose and treat breast cancer."

 

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Raj Mukherji, Dan Benson & Pamela Lampitt to require health insurers, SHBP and SEHBP to cover digital tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor.

Digital tomosynthesis, also sometimes called 3-D mammography, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create the final 3-D picture. Conventional mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, while tomosynthesis provides multiple pictures of breast tissue as the scanner moves in an arc. The difference between the images produced by tomosynthesis and conventional mammography has been described as being akin to a three dimensional ball versus a flat circle. 

"If there is a more precise way to screen and diagnose breast cancer, then we should begin making it available to all women through their health benefits," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Breast cancer can be curable if detected early. Women and their families should be allowed access to the medical resources necessary to diagnose and treat breast cancer."

"The chances of surviving advanced breast cancer are bleak. What good are these technological advances if they are not made available to the people who can benefit from them the most?" asked Mukherji (D-Hudson). "If there is a better screening test than can help with early breast cancer detection and survival rates, then it should be covered by health insurance providers."

"Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "3-D mammography has shown to be better at recognizing false-positives and detecting invasive cancers. If there is a better screening method that can lead to early cancer detection, and give patients a better chance at survival, then we must make it accessible and affordable to all." 

"There is no worse diagnosis than a cancer that is too far gone," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "3-D mammography makes detection easier, and is a better option for women with dense breast tissue. If this technology can help increase the chances of catching and beating breast cancer, it should be made available to patients through their health benefits."

The bill (A-4320) would require health insurers and health maintenance organizations, as well as health benefits plans or contracts which are issued or purchased pursuant to the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program, New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program, State Health Benefits Program, and School Employees' Health Benefits Program, to provide coverage for expenses incurred in conducting digital tomosynthesis to detect or screen for breast cancer in women 40 years of age and over; and for diagnostic purposes in women of any age.

The bill was approved unanimously by both houses.