Fitzgerald lauds enactment of breast density screening and insurance law

HARRISBURG, July 6 – More women who are at higher risk for breast cancer will have affordable access to enhanced screening methods thanks to legislation signed into law last week, according to state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., a longtime champion of the measure.   

Wolf last week signed a bill (S.B. 595) that is substantially identical to legislation (H.B. 1245) Fitzgerald sponsored in the House over the past two legislative sessions. Specifically, the new law extends insurance coverage to breast cancer screening methods recommended for women with high breast density, such as ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). It also would cover other known risk factors, such as family history. 

“We need to ensure proper access to screenings to enable early detection of breast cancer in women with high breast density, those with a higher risk for the disease,” Fitzgerald said. “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for passing this important measure, and I thank Governor Wolf for signing this life-saving legislation into law. 

“I also must thank and recognize Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for their ongoing efforts to bring awareness to this issue in communities of color, providing support and advocacy, as well as mobile mammography for women in need.”  

Fitzgerald held a public policy hearing in Philadelphia in the last legislative session to further explore why the screening mandate is necessary.    

She said high breast density is common among women. In the United States, 40% to 50% of women ages 40 to 74 have dense breasts. Women with high breast density are 4 to 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density. In 2019, approximately 41,000 women died from breast cancer.  

“Supplemental screening methods such as ultrasounds and MRIs can markedly improve rates of early cancer detection in women with dense breasts or at an increased risk of developing the disease,” Fitzgerald said. “Educating women about the risk of breast cancer is futile if we do not also facilitate affordable access to early detection methods.”  

More information about the legislation is available by contacting Fitzgerald’s office by phone at 215-549-0220 or by email at RepFitzgerald@pahouse.net.