Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Anthony Portantino's bill to ensure that more women have access to mammograms passed its final legislative hurdle today when it was approved for a final time in the Assembly. AB 137 eliminates outdated guidelines that have prevented younger women from receiving mammograms when medically necessary.
"There has been a lot of confusion in recent years over when a woman should and shouldn't begin receiving these screenings," explained Assemblymember Portantino. "This measure cuts through that confusion and gives patients and doctors maximum flexibility. It's good for the patient and in the long run, good for the insurance provider. Early detection helps save lives and certainly saves healthcare dollars."
By updating guidelines to the Insurance Code, younger women will be able to have a mammogram when medically necessary. Instead of basing the need for mammograms only on a woman's age,
AB 137 allows doctors to order diagnostic tests based on a more complete list of risk factors. The existing code requiring insurers to provide a baseline mammogram screening according to age is now outdated. Many women who are at "high risk" for breast cancer often develop cancer in their 20's and 30's and should be screened at an earlier age.
AB 137 will bring PPO's in line with HMO's with regard to mammogram screenings and will require coverage for mammograms based on medical necessity rather than a patient's age. Studies have shown that many women develop breast cancer at an earlier age than guidelines suggest. National breast cancer screening guidelines are just now beginning to address this disparity.
AB 137 was approved in Assembly concurrence 71 to 0 and now goes to Governor Brown for signature.