Archive for the ‘Legislative’ Category

From the desk of: PA Rep. Matt Baker

Posted By on October 17th, 2016 at 3:53 pm | 0 comments.

rep-baker-headshot-for-plHouse Health Committee Chair sheds light on what Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to him

This past year I was humbled and honored to receive the PA. Breast Cancer Coalition Pink Ribbon award, their highest award, and dedicate it to my sister-in-law fighting a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer.

Every woman who conquers breast cancer has an amazing story to share of their journey.  The one common thread in every story is that early detection saves lives.  October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and it’s hard to forget with pink ribbons, ties, and professional athletes wearing pink.

The statistics bear repeating.  One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.  Each year, more than 246,660 women and 40,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the nation.

One statistic that is trending in a positive direction is the number of people – 2.8 million – who are breast cancer survivors.  They are living full lives after having been diagnosed.

Pennsylvania is making strides in the continued effort to support those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  The Breast Density Notification Act requires mammography providers to notify women categorized as having dense breast tissue and about their condition.  Knowledge is power and this law has improved detection and prevention by educating patients about dense breast tissue and how it could conceal possible abnormalities during mammographic procedures.

Three-dimensional mammograms were approved by the Food and Drug Administration five years ago.  In 2014, the American College of Radiology declared tomosynthesis, the medical term for three-dimensional mammography, to no longer be a mere investigational tool.  Pennsylvania followed up last year by becoming the first state to require insurers to cover all screening mammograms, including the 3-D versions, at no out-of-pocket cost to consumers.  To see a list of the mammography facilities that offer 3D mammograms in Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition’s website at

In July Pennsylvania became the 42nd state to provide patients equal access to anti-cancer treatments with the enactment of oral chemotherapy legislation (Act 73 of 2016).  I was proud to author the enabling Oral Chemo Parity Legislation (House Bill 60).

Chemotherapy can have a violent effect on the human body as it does its job.  Oral chemotherapy drugs are often as strong as those administered intravenously and may have fewer side effects.  In some instances, oral medications are the only form of chemotherapy a patient can handle.

There is also the financial impact.  Prior to Act 73, orally-administered chemotherapy was covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit, which required patients to pay a percentage of the total cost of the drug (generally between 25-30 percent).  This created an enormous financial barrier for patients to access these drugs prescribed by their cancer physician for treatment.  Act 73 prohibits insurance policies from placing oral anti-cancer medications on a specialty tier or charging a copay for the medication.

Hopefully, these measures will help in saving lives and make treatment of breast cancer more tolerable and successful.  The end goal is to eradicate this disease.  Continued support of innovative and high-impact research will someday hopefully lead to the cure.

In Depth: PA’s Oral Parity Law for Cancer Treatment

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:31 am | 0 comments.

oral parity law for PL with logo 2Guest author: Kim Kockler, Independence Blue Cross

On July 8, 2016, House Bill 60 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 73, 2016.  The legislation requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for oral chemotherapy medications or impose cost sharing on a no less favorable basis than intravenous (IV) or injected chemotherapy medications for cancer patients. The new law is intended to establish a level of parity for patients regardless of the type of cancer chemotherapy medication they are being prescribed – oral medication or injected medication. It is important for consumers to understand the practical implications of the new law. The following are some points to keep in mind:

•    The legislation applies only if a health insurance policy already includes coverage for IV or injected chemotherapy medications that are FDA-approved.

•    Under the law, insurers are prohibited from increasing cost sharing for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of avoiding complying with the law. Cost sharing examples include a co-payment, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expense a consumer may have as required under their health insurance policy.

•    Oral chemotherapy medications may be subject to a health insurance plan’s prior authorization requirements. This means that the health insurance plan may require the provider who is treating the patient to get prior approval from the health insurance company before medication is dispensed to the patient. The law allows the health insurance company to consider both the medical necessity and cost of the oral chemotherapy medication in comparison to IV or injected chemotherapy medication when making a prior authorization determination.

•    The specific number and type of oral chemotherapy medications that are covered may vary by insurer and type of health plan.

It is also important to note which types of health insurance plans fall under the new law and the effective date. Act 73 applies to health insurance plans purchased by individuals as well as fully-insured small and large group plans offered by employers. The Act does not apply to self-funded plans. For those with insurance provided by their employer, it is best to check with the employer to inquire if the health insurance plan is self-funded.

The new law is effective for plans issued or renewed on or after January 8, 2017 for fully-insured large group health plans.  For individual and small group plans, Act 73 is effective on or after January 1, 2018.
It is recommended that consumers check with their health insurance company to determine specifically how the new law applies to their particular coverage.

First in the Nation: Governor Wolf Signs Statement Covering 3D Mammograms in PA

Posted By on August 16th, 2016 at 10:15 am | 0 comments.

Pat and Governor Wolf rounded cornersOn October 5, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf made Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to require insurance coverage of 3D screening mammograms for women insured under PA law. First Lady Frances Wolf made the historic announcement almost one year ago at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference in Harrisburg. Now, 3D screenings mammograms are covered at no additional cost to insured women and women covered through Medicaid.

To mark the 1st anniversary of the groundbreaking news, the PBCC is informing women across the state about how to access 3D screening mammograms in their area. We’ve launched a 1-question survey of all mammography centers. At our Conference October 10, we will release a list of the Pennsylvania 3D mammography centers. The list will also be published on our website, in our Frontline newsletter and right here in PinkLink.

Do you work for a mammography center that offers 3D screening mammograms? Don’t miss the list! Take the survey now and make sure your facility is listed as a 3D mammography provider.

Take the survey button

Governor Wolf Signs Bill Covering Oral Cancer Treatment for PA Patients

Posted By on July 14th, 2016 at 9:43 am | 0 comments.
PBCC Director of Patient Advocacy Dolores Magro spoke with oral chemo parity bill author Rep. Matt Baker at a recent press conference held by the PA Cancer Treatment Fairness Coalition at the State Capitol.

PBCC Director of Patient Advocacy Dolores Magro spoke with oral chemo parity bill author Rep. Matt Baker at a recent press conference held by the PA Cancer Treatment Fairness Coalition at the State Capitol.

Governor Tom Wolf just signed a bill that helps with the high costs of oral cancer treatment for patients in Pennsylvania. Rep. Matt Baker’s House Bill 60 specifically addresses the cost disparity between intravenous and oral cancer treatments. Previously, oral cancer medication was covered under an insurer’s pharmacy (drug) benefit, often requiring patients to pay thousands of dollars per month, out-of-pocket. Now, oral treatments will be covered the same as intravenous medications on an insurer’s medical benefit, which means patients will only be required to make a fixed co-payment.

Rep. Baker, a 2015 PBCC Pink Ribbon Awardee, authored the oral cancer treatment parity bill and has been working to pass the legislation for years. The following legislators were also instrumental in the passage of the bill: Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, Senate sponsor of oral cancer treatment parity legislation, Sen. Pat Vance, chair, Senate Health and Public Welfare Committee, Sen. Don White, chair, Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, chair, House Cancer Caucus.
“This legislation was a long time in coming. With more than 80,000 people per year receiving a cancer diagnosis in Pennsylvania, we needed to step up and make sure everyone has access to the best and most cutting-edge cancer treatments”
Rep Matt Baker, (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter)
Author of Act 37, oral cancer treatment parity law

“Oral cancer treatment is the wave of the future,” said PBCC President Pat Halpin-Murphy. “We commend Governor Wolf for signing this law and we congratulate Rep. Baker for his commitment to the thousands of cancer patients this will impact across Pennsylvania. This will truly save lives.”

According to Rep. Baker, Pennsylvania now joins more than 40 states and Washington, D.C., in having enacted legislation to control out-of-pocket oral cancer treatment costs for patients.

3D Mammogram Coverage Information Available for PA Women

Posted By on February 15th, 2016 at 9:26 am | 0 comments.

3d-mammogram-for-PL3D mammograms are FREE for women in Pennsylvania! If you are insured under PA law or if you are covered by Medicaid in PA, 3D mammograms are available at no cost to you.

Have questions?

Click here to download our free 3D mammogram information sheet.

Click here for frequently asked questions about 3D mammograms from the PA Insurance Commission.

World Cancer Day 2016: A Day to Take Action

Posted By on February 4th, 2016 at 8:21 am | 0 comments.


Today is World Cancer Day!  It’s a day that unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer.  Here at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, we are dedicated to fighting breast cancer every day and YOU can help us!  Want to know how?  Make this World Cancer Day a day to take action:

Schedule your annual mammogram and/or tell a friend to do the same

  • We’re all busy, but not too busy to know the importance of early detection. By scheduling your mammogram, you’re taking time to ensure you are healthy and that is more than worth it.  It could save your life!  P.S. While you’re there, check to see if you have dense breast tissue and, if you do, ask about supplemental screenings beyond the regular mammogram like ultrasounds, MRIs or tomosynthesis (3D mammograms). FREE mammograms are available in PA. Click here to find learn more

Request a FREE Friends Like Me Care Package for a loved one recently diagnosed with breast cancer

  • The PA Breast Cancer Coalition offers free care packages full of information, educational materials, books, small gifts and headwraps for women in Pennsylvania who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer (packages are most helpful within the first 6 months).  If you have been diagnosed or you know someone who has been, click here to request a free package today.

Support life-saving legislation in Pennsylvania

  • The PA Breast Cancer Coalition worked with Sen. Bob Mensch to pass the Breast Density Notification Act requiring mammography centers to notify women of their breast density. Now, we are working on Senate Bill 842 which would require supplemental screenings like MRIs or ultrasounds to be covered for women insured in PA. Those screenings may show something that may be missed on a traditional 2D mammogram. What can YOU do?  Contact your state senator and ask him/her to support this important bill! Click here to find your lawmaker and contact information. Click here to read Senate Bill 842.

Help researchers find a cure

  • Time to start talking taxes again! This year, why not put that state income tax refund to good use? Every Pennsylvania taxpayer has the option to donate all or part of their state income tax refund on Line 32 directly to Pennsylvania breast cancer researchers.  Choose code “A” and your refund will go toward our PBCC Breast Cancer Research grants Initiative.  We have pledged $300,000 in grants this year alone.  Make a difference with us!
  • Didn’t get a refund?  Make a private donation to the PBCC today! Click here to donate now.

Volunteer or become a PBCC Grassroots Partner!

  • The PBCC is always looking for volunteers across the state! Whether it’s a few hours once a year or you are looking for something more involved, we have an opportunity for you! Click here to view our opportunities and learn more today. Looking to do even more?  Become a Grassroots Partner and host your own event in your community. Click here to find out how you can give back and make a difference for women and families in Pennsylvania.

Did you take action today? Share it on Facebook and Twitter with us!


President’s Corner: American Cancer Society Clarifies Mammogram Recommendations

Posted By on January 15th, 2016 at 10:03 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplby Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder

You may recall, in October, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new mammography guidelines which raised concerns, especially for us here at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. The ACS recommendations suggest women begin annual mammograms at age 45 and every other year beginning at age 55. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition believes that starting mammograms at 40 is the gold standard. Another concern with the ACS recommendations was the possibility that insurance companies could use the guidelines as an opportunity to eliminate free mammograms for many women.

We know that Pennsylvania insurance agency representatives have already indicated their desire to roll back PA’s guarantee of free mammograms for state-insured women.

In response, Dr. Richard Wender, Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society sent a letter addressing our concerns to the PA Secretary of Health and PA Insurance Commissioner, clarifying the intent of the latest mammography guidelines.

Dr-Wender-quote-2The letter further explains the ACS recommendations, stressing the importance of a woman’s consultation with her doctor. The PBCC applauds and thanks the American Cancer Society for adressing these concerns, for providing a more in-depth explanation of its screening guidelines and for making it clear that they, in no way, support removing current insurance coverage for women 40 to 45 in our state.

Read the complete letter from Dr. Richard Wender on behalf of the American Cancer Society here.

UPDATE: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its latest mammography guidelines, recommending women begin screening at age 50. The PBCC strongly diagrees. Click here to read our press release.

President’s Corner: PA Medicaid Now Covers 3D Mammograms for Women

Posted By on December 15th, 2015 at 10:52 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplBy Pat Halpin-Murphy, President & Founder

Have you heard? Not only are 3D mammograms covered for women insured under Pennsylvania law, they are now covered for women insured by PA Medicaid. As of December 1, 2015, PA Medicaid participants are eligible to receive 3D mammograms at the same coverage level as traditional 2D mammograms.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, “tomosynthesis (3D mammograms) is becoming more common as many health care 3d-mammogram-for-plfacilities in this Commonwealth are replacing 2D mammography technology with 3D mammography technology, offering new opportunities to diagnose breast cancer and providing life-saving treatment earlier than ever.”

Thanks to the commitment of Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to consider 3D mammograms exactly what they are: mammograms. On October 5, 2015 at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference, First Lady Frances Wolf announced that insurers must cover 3D mammograms at no cost to women over the age of 40. The move clarifies an existing law that the PA Breast Cancer Coalition worked to pass in the 1990s.

Thanks to YOUR help, 3D mammograms are now covered for women insured by PA Medicaid. As of October 5, 2015, insurers covered under state law are also offering 3D mammogram coverage. We’re honored to take action with you!