Landmark Cancer Screening Legislation Passed

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — Each year, 14,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania. New legislation, which passed unanimously Wednesday in the state House, will help those who are diagnosed, their families and future survivors.

“Senate Bill 8 is a game changer. Pennsylvania will be the first state in the nation that provides these services to the women in need and their families,” said Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) and a breast cancer survivor.

SB 8 removes out-of-pocket costs for genetic testing of hereditary breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancer syndromes, as well as supplemental breast screenings, like MRIs, for women at high risk.

“The cost is very high, but now there will be no cost to those women,” said Halpin-Murphy. “The earlier you are diagnosed, the easier and less expensive the treatments and the less devastating the treatments,” she added.

“We were able to do something together and do something very, very positive for the families and the women of our great Commonwealth,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), who is also a breast cancer survivor.

“It is historic, and I can’t even tell you what it feels like. I can’t even describe it,” said Ward. “We can do big things. And I think we just did one,” she added.

“Regardless of where their insurance plan is from, regardless of whether they went on Pennie to sign up or it’s private pay, they will be able to get their help,” said House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware).

McClinton says SB 8 will eliminate barriers, especially for women of color. According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Black women have a 40 percent higher death rate from breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is one of those diseases, that many times for women of color, women that look like me, it is a death sentence,” said McClinton.

SB 8 was passed unanimously by the Senate in March. It is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro next week. The Governor’s Office shared the following statement from Gov. Shapiro regarding the passage of SB 8:

“I’m glad to see the General Assembly working quickly in a bipartisan way to ensure Pennsylvania women have access to the lifesaving health care they need. I’m grateful to Senator Ward for her leadership on this issue, and I look forward to signing this bill to improve access to breast cancer screening. My Administration has been focused on coming together around commonsense solutions to the problems Pennsylvanians face, and now, the first bill to come across my desk serves as a great example of what we can accomplish in Harrisburg when we work together to get things done for the good people of Pennsylvania.”


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