HR 5711: Access to Mammography at Risk

July 18, 2007 (Rep. Weiner @ house.gov)

1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 and older have a mammogram every year. Early detection through mammograms can give women hope by significantly increasing their chance of survival from breast cancer. Over the last 7 years, due to better technology, the number of breast cancer cases that have been diagnosed has increased by 20%. However, the percentage of women receiving mammograms has been on the decline since 2000.

The root of this decline has been the alarming rate at which mammogram facilities are closing down. Among the reasons for these closures is the fact that mammography is not a lucrative business. Due to high overhead, inflation and rising medical costs, and the low rate paid by Medicare, offering mammograms can actually result in a net loss for the facilities that provide them.

Medicare reimbursement rates for mammograms are well below the actual cost of performing the mammogram, causing some facilities to lose money just for giving the procedure. Private insurers base their reimbursement rates on Medicare levels, making this a concern for everyone in need of mammograms.

New advancements in technology and treatment for breast cancer have given women a better chance than ever to win the survive breast cancer. However stagnation as a result of closures and wait times has hindered these achievements. The time has come to reverse this trend.

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