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New York introduces legislation to improve breast cancer screening access

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | June 16, 2016
Population Health Women's Health
$91 million investment made
In 2014, almost 22 percent of women in New York State between the ages 50 and 74 reported they were not having mammograms performed at least every other year — but with a series of new breast cancer initiatives, Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to change that.

Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced an agreement on Sunday to improve access to breast cancer screening throughout the state. This expands on the $91 million worth of investments made for a public awareness campaign, community outreach programs, patient navigators and mobile mammography vans.

The agreement includes legislation to extend hours for screening at 210 hospital-based mammography centers by at least four hours per week, including the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It will also eliminate annual deductibles, co-payments and cost-sharing for screening.

Cost-sharing will be eliminated for diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound and breast MR exams for women at high risk for breast cancer. Women will no longer have to pay any additional expenses out-of-pocket when they need an exam other than a standard mammogram.

Cuomo will make it so public employees in cities with a population of one million or more, including New York City, will have four hours of leave each year for breast cancer screening. The state is asking that private employers also extend this benefit to their employees.

Every year, about 15,000 women in New York are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 2,640 die from it. Access to mammography screening is largely the solution because treatment is most effective at an early stage.

In June 2012, Cuomo signed legislation that requires physicians to inform patients if dense breast tissue is found during an exam. To date, 27 states have breast density notification laws in effect.

Cuomo is also focusing on raising awareness of and screening for prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer among men in the state. For the initiative, 25,000 men will receive peer education and outreach services to encourage them to discuss their risk with their physician in order to decide if they should be screened.

The state will also invest $5 million from the New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund to support the commercialization of cancer-related technologies. Those include products that may help increase the number of women screened for breast cancer, and innovations that improve the diagnosis or treatment of breast and prostate cancer.

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