OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Breast cancer survivors and Oklahoma lawmakers are calling this legislation that will save lives. Patients at risk will now receive financial assistance to catch the deadly disease early.
House Bill 3504 was written by Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, it was signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt.
This would save patients and insurance companies money and, more importantly, save lives by catching breast cancer earlier.
“I had found a growth when I was 25 years old. I went to the doctor, she told me it was probably nothing. It was probably a cyst and insurance wouldn’t cover my mammogram,” said two-time cancer survivor Sarah McLean.
So at that time McLean did not have a diagnostic mammogram. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer.
Activists and lawmakers say it happens too often in Oklahoma.
“This is a huge win for early detection and cost shouldn’t be a barrier,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano.
That’s why the Democrat from Tulsa says she’s the author of HB 3504.
This is a new law that will require insurance companies to fully cover not only initial screenings, but also diagnostic mammograms, which could save the patient more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs.
“If you’re not in this world, you don’t understand the magnitude of this breakthrough, but I can’t say how grateful I am,” McLean said. “It’s such a big step in the right direction to make sure we try to do our best to save lives.”
“It’s a good thing for our state to be leaders in this measure to make sure we get diagnostic imaging right away,” said Senator Brenda Stanley.
And timing matters. Experts say more than 3,000 Oklahomans are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and more than 600 die from the disease each year.
“Really, this is going to save lives,” Stanley said.
The Midwest City Republican also points out that it not only saves money for the patient, but also saves money for the insurance company by catching the disease early before it progresses to a point requiring expensive surgeries.
“I got emails from begging, southeast Oklahoma, just saying thank you because that got in the way of catching things quickly,” Provenzano said.
This bill was signed into law by the Governor. It will come into force on November 1.
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