By Susan K. Livio/The Star-Ledger - www.nj.com
TRENTON — Insurance companies would be required to pay the cost of an ultrasound for women with a high-risk of breast cancer under a bipartisan bill the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved today.
The bill (A-2022) would require health insurers to cover ultrasounds or MRIs if a mammogram shows the patient has dense breast tissue, has a genetic history of breast cancer, or if a mammogram shows an abnormality.
“Cancer recurrence is four times more likely in women with dense breasts,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), one of the bill's prime sponsors. “When it comes to this extremely high risk factor, we can’t take a laissez faire approach to preventative treatment. This is a disease that touches nearly everyone’s life in one way or another."
If the bill is ultimately signed into law, it would benefit less than half of insured women in the state. State law applies only to state employees or those whose insurance plans are state-regulated, such as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Many large companies and municipalities are self-insured and governed by federal law, and would not have to comply with the legislation.
“Early detection saves thousands of lives each year, yet for some women mammograms are ineffective,” Assemblyman John Amodeo, (R-Atlantic) said. “Dense tissue often hides tumors, which makes mammograms ineffective and puts women at increased risk. We can save more women’s lives in New Jersey by requiring insurers cover ultrasound tests.”
The bill moves to the full Assembly for a final vote before to goes to the governor.
The Senate approved the bill in June.