CONGRESS — U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to provide female U.S. servicemembers and their families with improved breast cancer screening options.
U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are co-sponsors of the bill.
The Better and Robust Screening Today Act requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to cover the most effective breast cancer screening option: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, also known as DBT or 3D mammography. DBT is already covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and almost all other traditional health care plans. Currently, DoD only covers DBT as a secondary option, after there is an issue with the first, traditional scan.
"Servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much and deserve the best health care and technology available,” said McSally. “There is simply no good reason to deny DBT screening, the latest breast cancer imaging technology, to Tricare patients. As a female veteran myself, I am proud to lead this bicameral, bipartisan bill to expand Tricare coverage for our heroes and their families."
“Expanding access to the latest advances in preventive cancer screenings could mean the difference between life and death for some Americans. Improving this access for our service members is a no brainer and I’m proud to stand with Senator McSally in this bipartisan effort,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would provide an important fix to our health care system by requiring the Department of Defense to cover 3D mammography as an option for preventive breast cancer screening. 3D mammography can provide superior detection of breast cancer, which is critical to beating this devastating disease. This bill is an important way to help ensure our servicewomen have coverage to seek the preventive screenings they need.”
“Our active duty servicemembers, military family members, and veterans should have access to quality health care,” said Houlahan. “The BRST Bill mark an important step in addressing the gaps in TRICARE, which covers many in our military community. DBT Mammography is the best screening for breast cancer we have in women with dense breast tissue. TRICARE should be covering this service so that both those who’ve served and their families have the best chance at early detection. I’m proud of this bipartisan and bicameral legislation borne from the minds of women veterans in Congress.”
The number of females in the Armed Forces continues to grow at a rapid pace. In 1973, at the end of the draft, women represented a mere 2 percent of the enlisted forces and 8 percent of the officer corps. Today, those numbers have significantly increased to 16 percent and 18 percent respectively.
On September 30, McSally led a bipartisan letter urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to expand and improve breast cancer screening coverage options for female servicemembers and their families.