Beginning Friday, Sept. 23, all adult women in Ohio will have expanded access to new healthcare services designed for the early detection of breast cancer. Approved by the Ohio Legislature in June 2022, Ohio House Bill (HB) 371 allows doctors to order needed tests right away, while extending insurance coverage for advanced screenings needed specifically for detection of the disease in women with dense breast tissue.
According to the CDC, approximately one in eight women will have breast cancer in their lifetime, with Black women being 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Women with dense breast tissue face a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and almost half of all women have dense breast tissue. Traditional mammography has been proven to be less sensitive in women with dense breasts and can miss breast cancer detection.
Early screening and detection are key to increasing a chance at survival. According to the American Cancer Society, women whose breast cancer is caught early have a 99% survival rate and require less aggressive treatment.
Ohio House Bill 371:
- Extends private insurance and Medicaid coverage to include 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) for breast cancer screening and one mammogram every year.
- Removes age limitations for screening mammography.
- Provides additional coverage for supplemental screening for women with dense breasts or additional risk factors.
- Improves dense breast notification letter to patients.
“The enactment of Ohio House Bill 371 will significantly change the way we are able to screen for breast cancer and find it early even in women with dense breasts, which can and will save lives,” Ann Brown, MD, UC Health breast radiologist and associate professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine stated. Dr. Brown collaborated with other health professionals, State representatives Jean Schmidt and Sedrick Denson, and late-stage cancer survivor Michele Young to draft and advocate for the bill’s passage earlier this year.
State Representative Sedrick Denson (OH-33) co-sponsored Ohio HB 371. “The enactment of Ohio House Bill 371 is a great victory for all Ohioans—we want to ensure that our mothers, daughters, wives, friends and simply the women of our society are in optimal health by detecting breast cancer earlier and making screenings accessible, which will allow them to continue making more memories with their families and gaining the most out of life. With bipartisan support, and unanimous support from Ohio’s medical community, HB 371 is a powerful example of what laws can accomplish,” Rep. Denson said.
State Representative Jean Schmidt (OH-65) also co-sponsored the bill. She added, “HB 371 provides all women with the most advanced screening for breast cancer. One in eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime and 75% will have had no history. Today, women will have the most advanced tools at their disposal when they go for their screenings. They no longer have to wait until they are 40. This truly is lifesaving legislation for every woman in Ohio. I want to thank doctors Brown and Mahoney and all others at UC Health for assisting in drafting this lifesaving legislation and getting it passed.”
Michele Young is a rare, stage 4 breast cancer survivor who suffered from a missed diagnosis, and against all odds, is in complete remission. Had this legislation been in place earlier, Michele’s breast cancer would likely have been caught earlier and she would have improved chances for survival. She is sharing her story and advocating for universal screening for all women.
“This legislation will save thousands of Ohioans’ lives, millions of dollars and end a lot of needless pain and suffering,” said Ms. Young. “We know how to detect breast cancer earlier and Ohio’s policies have now caught up with science. We view this legislation as a promising model to assuring that all women in the US have a right to the best chance of surviving breast cancer.”