Bipartisan legislation requiring the VA to make multiple improvements to its breast cancer screening and research capabilities passed the Senate on March 23 by a unanimous voice vote and will move to the House for consideration.
The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act (S. 2533) “provides the life-saving screening, treatment, and care for veterans diagnosed with breast cancer when the need has never been more urgent given the significantly higher risk of breast cancer and other cancers in the military population,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “We thank the Senate for making the bill a priority. MOAA urges the House to take up the bill and get it passed without delay.”
Other veterans advocacy groups joining MOAA in support of the legislation include Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and Paralyzed Veterans of America. The House version of the legislation (H.R. 4794) was introduced in July and has 17 co-sponsors.
If enacted, the bill would require the VA to:
- Launch a pilot program providing telemammography to veterans in states where the department doesn’t offer mammograms or where access to the tests is limited.
- Upgrade its breast imaging facilities to use digital breast tomosynthesis – better known as 3-D breast imaging – within two years.
- Compile a series of reports and studies, including the feasibility of studying genetic testing for the breast cancer gene among veterans, access to mammography services for paralyzed and disabled veterans, and an overall report on veterans’ access to, and quality of, VA mammography screenings.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, led a bipartisan group of sponsors in the Senate, to include Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
The bill “will improve women veterans’ access to breast cancer screening and treatment, lead to earlier detection of cancers, and save more lives,” Tester said after its Senate passage. “We’ve got to keep delivering veterans the tools they need to fight breast cancer, and I encourage my House colleagues to pass this bill without any delay.”
Boozman said the bill’s improvements, which include a partnership between the VA and the National Cancer Institute, “will help us provide lifesaving prevention and treatment to veterans who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Taking full advantage of the VA’s unique capabilities and resources will help veterans get the best care available.”
Watch for updates on this and other benefits legislation at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
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