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Shapiro signs first bill, expands Pa. health insurance coverage for breast cancer screenings

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HARRISBURG — Insurers must cover the costs of breast cancer screenings for people at high risk of developing the disease under a new law Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro signed Monday.

“This is just the start. We have a lot more work to do, and this spirit of goodwill and compromise needs to continue,” Shapiro said at a signing ceremony in the Capitol, flanked by lawmakers from both major parties.

Advocates for health care access said the law — the first Shapiro signed since taking office in January — is a positive, though limited, step toward making crucial medical tests more affordable. They urged further action in this vein, something that typically requires lawmakers to negotiate with the commonwealth’s powerful health insurance industry.

The new law will allow people at higher risk of breast cancer to receive further genetic counseling, ultrasounds, and MRIs among other treatments without paying out-of-pocket costs. State-regulated insurers were already required to cover, but not entirely pay for, MRIs and ultrasounds under a 2020 law.

The coverage requirement only applies to private, state-regulated health insurance plans, though the state’s Medical Assistance program already has similar coverage.

According to the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy, 11 other states have passed laws removing copays or deductibles for imaging, while two more are poised to join that list soon.

However, no other state has mandated coverage of genetic testing for the BRCA genes, which indicate a higher chance of developing breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

The underlying bill was sponsored by state Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland), a breast cancer survivor, and

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