SUMMIT, NJ - Congressman Leonard Lance, R-District 7, unveiled the "Safeguarding Access to Preventative Services Act of 2010" on Friday at the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Headquarters in Summit.
Lance, who formally launched his re-election campaign on Tuesday, authored the legislation, which will ensure preventative services, such as mammograms, cannot be denied coverage by any group health plan or health insurance issuer as a result of federal guidelines. The bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives next week when Lance and his colleagues return to session.
The bill is in response to last year's statement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommended women wait until the age of 50 before receiving a mammogram. Lance, along with the North Jersey and Central/South Jersey Komen Affiliates, strongly opposed the recommendation and began working on new legislation almost immediately. The congressman called the new guidelines "extremely disturbing" and said he was "appalled at these recommendations."
According to Dr. Jan Huston of the Komen North Jersey Medical Advisory Council, one out of every eight women in New Jersey will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. One third of those are under the age of 50, the recommended age the Preventive Services Task Force suggests women begin mammogram screenings. Even more alarming, 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no risk factors other than being a woman and aging.
Deborah Belfatto, Chief Development Officer for Komen North Jersey, says Komen is in the business of saving lives. With the legislation's goal of detecting cancer in its earlier stages, Belfatto said that the unveiling of the legislation is historical. "I believe the bill will receive bi-partisanship," the Congressman stated.
Next week, Lance will ask for support from both sides of the aisle and by nature, he believes it shouldn't be a partisan issue. Lance, who's mother passed when he was just 12 years-old, went on to say, "While we don't know the cause or cure for cancer, we do know that early detection is still the best prevention. My bill would make sure that women can't be denied coverage for the preventative screenings they need despite the misguided federal guidelines."
According to Lance's official release, the bill would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from using any recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (or any successor task force) to deny coverage of an item or service by a group health plan or health insurance issuer. The bill is endorsed by officials from the North Jersey and Central/South Jersey Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The representatives for Komen point out that the federal guidelines recommended by the U.S. Preventive Task Force conflict with expert opinion in the medical and cancer community.