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Issue Background

ASRT Voices Support for Breast Tomosynthesis Exams for Military Members and Families

Please send a letter to your federal representative and senators and ask them to cosponsor and promote HR 5238 and S 2944, the Better and Robust Screen Today (BRST) Act.

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House Resolution 5238 and Senate Bill 2944, the BRST Act, is receiving active support from the ASRT. Sponsored by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (PA) and Sen. Martha McSally (AZ), these bills will ensure that active duty military servicewomen and military family members covered by the TRICARE program are able to access digital breast tomosynthesis screening examinations. Digital breast tomosynthesis screenings have been shown to enhance the ability to detect precancerous and cancerous lesions in women with dense breast tissue. ASRT represents more than 156,000 medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals, including more than 21,000 mammographers who perform screening and diagnostic mammography examinations on millions of Americans each year.

The bill states:

  • A woman born today has a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Death rates from breast cancer in the United States have dropped 40 percent between 1989 and 2017 which translates to 375,900 deaths avoided during those 28 years.
  • The decline in breast cancer death rates has been attributed to improvements in treatment and early detection and screening.
  • When breast cancer is detected in an early and localized stage, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent, further demonstrating why proper screening is essential.
  • Conventional mammography and digital mammography are known to be less effective in the breast cancer screening process for all women, including those with dense breast tissue, than digital breast tomosynthesis screening.
  • The Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) and the Veterans Health Administration cover digital breast tomosynthesis mammography screenings.
  • The TRICARE program (as defined in section 1072(7) of title 10, United States Code) does not currently cover digital breast tomosynthesis mammography screenings.

ASRT is pleased to announce that the U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 that requires TRICARE to extend permanent screening coverage for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). TRICARE is the health care plan that provides care to millions of military service members, their families, and veterans; and is currently the only national payer without permanent coverage of screening digital breast tomosynthesis.

The amendment adds to the defense spending bill the breast imaging provisions that were included in House Resolution 5238, introduced in November 2019 by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (PA). The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, as amended, was passed at the end of July 2020 and the bill has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee for consideration when Congress returns to Washington in September.