Governor Josh Shapiro signed the first bill of his administration, Act 1 of 2023, a first-of-its-kind law in the nation that will require insurers to cover preventive breast and ovarian cancer screenings for high-risk women at no cost.
The landmark legislation, introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. It removes out-of-pocket costs associated with genetic testing for hereditary breast, ovarian, prostate, and other cancer syndromes, as well as supplemental breast screenings for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. Act 1 ensures this critical healthcare will be accessible and affordable for more Pennsylvanians, and it is expected to save many lives.
“I am proud that the first bill I have signed as governor is a bill that passed both chambers unanimously – with Democrats and Republicans coming together to improve access to critically important healthcare and save countless lives in Pennsylvania. This bill is the first of its kind in our country, requiring insurance companies to cover the costs of preventive cancer screenings for women at high risk of breast cancer,” said Shapiro.
“Pennsylvania is leading the nation in the fight against breast cancer by eliminating out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling for high-risk individuals, as well as supplemental screenings such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women,” said Ward (R-Westmoreland). “My personal experience with breast cancer presented me the opportunity to see where some of the gaps were in the system. With approximately 14,000 new cases of breast cancer per year in Pennsylvania, what this legislature did by getting the bill to Gov. Shapiro for his signature will have a hugely positive effect on women’s health and lives.”
“Breast cancer is a terrible disease, with roughly 264,000 cases diagnosed in women and 2,400 cases in men every year. For Black women, the statistics are even more alarming, as it is the number one cause of cancer death for Black women at an alarming rate of 31 percent,” said House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). “But there is hope, now as a result of this new law, more Pennsylvanians will have access to the screening and genetic counseling that can lead to an early diagnosis and save lives. This is a testament to the good work we can do for our neighbors across the commonwealth.”
Shapiro added, “This historic legislation will help women fight breast cancer and live healthier lives, and it would not have been possible without the courage, tenacity, and bipartisan cooperation of Senate Pro Tempore Kim Ward and Speaker Joanna McClinton. I believe government can and should be a productive force for good, and this is a real example of the big things we can accomplish in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when we work together.”
“This is not a red or blue issue. It is a pink issue,” said Ward, who urged other states to follow Pennsylvania’s lead.