Assembly Panel Approves Singleton Bill to Require Health Benefits to Cover the Use of Digital, 3-D Cancer Screening & Diagnostic Device

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) to require health insurers, SHBP and SEHBP to provide coverage for digital tomosynthesis for screening and diagnostic purposes related to breast cancer was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday. 

Digital tomosynthesis, also sometimes called 3-D mammography, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create the final 3-D picture. Conventional mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, while tomosynthesis provides multiple pictures of breast tissue as the scanner moves in an arc. The difference between the images produced by tomosynthesis by conventional mammography has been described as being akin to a three dimensional ball versus a flat circle. 

"If there is a more precise way to screen and diagnose breast cancer, then we should begin making it available to all women through their health benefits," said Singleton. "Breast cancer can be curable if detected early. Women and their families should be allowed access to the medical resources necessary to diagnose and treat breast cancer."

"This device allows for a more thorough examination. It should be accessible to all patients and covered under health insurance benefits."

The bill (A-4320) requires health insurers and health maintenance organizations, as well as health benefits plans or contracts which are issued or purchased pursuant to the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program, New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program, State Health Benefits Program, and School Employees' Health Benefits Program, to provide coverage for expenses incurred in conducting digital tomosynthesis to detect or screen for breast cancer in women 40 years of age and over; and for diagnostic purposes in women of any age. 

The bill was approved by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration. 

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