SCREEN for Cancer Act would reauthorize a program providing preventative breast and cervical cancer diagnostic services to medically underserved women

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues introduced legislation to increase access to lifesaving cancer screenings. The Screening for Communities to Receive Early and Equitable Needed Services (SCREENS) for Cancer Act would reauthorize the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which provides preventative breast and cervical cancer diagnostic services to uninsured, underinsured, and low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid. The program also offers Medicaid coverage to those diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the program. 

“Following my breast cancer diagnosis after a routine screening last year, preventative care is personal to me. While I was fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early stage, that is not the case for many,” said Klobuchar. “Too many Americans delayed health screenings over the last three years. By expanding the reach of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, we can help ensure that women who are most vulnerable have access to life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings.” 

In addition to Klobuchar, the SCREENS for Cancer Act is sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). Companion legislation is led in the House by Representatives Joe Morelle (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA). 

The SCREENS for Cancer Act would reauthorize the NBCCEDP through 2027. The NBCCEDP, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state departments of health, has provided breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to more than six million women, detecting nearly 75,000 breast cancers and almost 4,000 premalignant breast lesions. 

This legislation would also provide additional funding to better support the demand for NBCCEDP, ensuring that more women are able to access services, and increasing flexibility to NBCCEDP grantees to enable greater emphasis on implementing innovative evidence-based interventions and aggressive outreach to underserved communities through media, peer educators, and patient navigators.

Without access to early detection programs, many people who are uninsured are forced to delay or forgo screenings, which could lead to late-stage or metastasizing breast cancer diagnoses, which are more expensive and harder to successfully treat.

The SCREENS for Cancer Act is endorsed by Susan G. Komen, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Oncology Social Work, Check for a Lump, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Men Supporting Women with Cancer, National Cervical Cancer Coalition, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, National Consortium of Breast Centers, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Women’s Health Network, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Sharsheret, Society for Women’s Health Research, Society for Women’s Health Research and TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance.

Last October, Klobuchar and Collins introduced the Preventative Care Awareness Act, bipartisan legislation to promote mammograms, screenings, and other preventative health care services. The same month, Klobuchar and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) urged the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to address how exposure to toxic burn pits increases the potential risk of breast cancer for female servicemembers. 

Klobuchar and Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and increase funding for breast cancer awareness was signed into law in December 2020.