DEARBORN – U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) joined leaders of the Komen Foundation Detroit Chapter for a tour and discussion at the Beaumont Dearborn Breast Cancer Center Aug. 21.
The tour gave Dingell and Komen Foundation members the opportunity to discuss and witness first-hand efforts under way to ensure screenings and mammograms are made accessible and affordable to all women.
The tour of the center began with discussion on 3D mammography and the importance of advanced diagnostic imaging in women’s healthcare. The conversations were led by Dr. Sophia Roumanis, radiologist, Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn.
The tour concluded following an additional discussion on how Beaumont supports underinsured women with their breast care needs. The conversation was led by Julie Lafata, Mammography supervisor, Breast Care Center.
Dingell had her annual mammogram the day before, and reminded the public that all women should discuss with their doctors when and how often to have regular mammograms. It is widely agreed upon by the medical community that early detection tests are a best practice that helps save lives.
In addition to her tour of the center, Dingell also attended the American Cancer Society breakfast in Ann Arbor to kick off fall events aimed at raising awareness on breast cancer.
“For many women, access to early tests and screenings can mean life and death,” Dingell said. “Today, I heard story after story. Approximately 900 women in the state of Michigan this year will declare bankruptcy due to the high cost of treatment and recovery for breast cancer. Approximately 2,400 women will lose their jobs because of the time off required for diagnosis and recovery.
“One of the woman whose daughter was getting married couldn’t afford the tests and didn’t want her daughter to worry. And ultimately, the woman died. Cost should never stand in the way of diagnosis, which is why we must continue to do all we can to ensure screenings and diagnosis are made affordable and accessible to every woman.”
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated there will be 9,310 diagnosis of breast cancer among women in Michigan. Out of that estimate, it is believed 1,410 will be fatal.
In July 2018, the University of Michigan surveyed 2,500 breast cancer patients and found that 38 percent of women surveyed were somewhat worried about finances because of their breast cancer treatment. Additionally, 14 percent of the women surveyed reported losing more than 10 percent of their household income because of their treatment.
Earlier this year, Dingell and a group of bi-partisan members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would make breast cancer diagnostic tests more affordable and accessible to all women. Under current law insurance companies are required to cover preventative healthcare with no copays, including health screenings such as mammograms.
If a breast cancer screening shows that a woman may have breast cancer, a diagnostic test is required to determine whether or not cancer is present. Since diagnosis is a separate process from screening, insurance companies are not required to cover diagnostic exams with no copays. This leaves some women in a situation where their doctor suspects they have breast cancer, but they can’t afford to pay for the actual diagnosis.
The legislation requires insurance companies to cover breast cancer diagnosis in the same way screenings are covered.
“Women across the country are delaying, or even foregoing, needed diagnostic breast imaging due to the high and varying out-of-pocket costs,” said Molly Guthrie, director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “We are honored to work with Congresswoman Dingell on the Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act to reduce out-of-pocket costs for this critical service.
“Komen feels that no woman should be put in the position of knowing something is wrong, but unable to do anything about it because of the cost. Eliminating this financial barrier is key to saving lives.”