New law will help Pennsylvanians beat breast cancer and save lives

Act 1 provides access to free MRI screenings for patients at high risk for breast cancer

I was proud to stand alongside Gov. Josh Shapiro last month when he made history signing his first bill into law - a bill I voted for and, as speaker, steered through the state House.  In fact, S.B. 8 – now Act 1 – which will provide more women and men access to breast cancer screening, garnered unanimous support in both the state House and Senate!

I supported this new law because breast cancer impacts countless families across Pennsylvania, and because when it comes to keeping healthy, access to health care and preventative action can save lives.

Sadly, in the U.S., more than 250,000 women and 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and breast cancer leads to tens of thousands of deaths. For Black women, the statistics are even more alarming, with a mortality rate as high as 40%, the highest of any ethnic group.

But early detection is key, and that is where Pennsylvania’s new law can make a difference.

Early prevention is the most effective way to save lives - when breast cancer is diagnosed early, the rate of survival increases exponentially with a five-year survival rate of over 90%!

Pennsylvania’s new law requires insurers to fully cover the cost of breast MRIs and ultrasounds for women with high-risk conditions and the cost for genetic testing and counseling for people at high risk of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which predisposes them to breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

By eliminating out-of-pocket costs for our neighbors, this law will allow more at-risk women and men to be able to access these tools to detect cancer earlier and treat it sooner.

Also, this new law is historic! Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring insurers to cover preventative cancer screenings for high-risk individuals. Already, other states are looking to us as a model for how to pass their own laws to ensure critical health care is accessible and affordable for their residents.

As a state legislator, one of my top priorities is to champion legislation that will positively impact our community, and this legislation will help many people tackle an awful disease. It is also example of how state lawmakers can improve the lives of our neighbors and aid families in our community and in communities across the state. I am truly inspired by the bipartisan support behind this law. 

This is just one action we’ve taken so far in Harrisburg to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians. The House has also passed legislation to help stem Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage, improve workplace safety, and protect our communities with commonsense gun safety measures. There is a still more to do, and we’re just getting started! I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to pass legislation that helps every Pennsylvanian and improves the quality of life for all of us.