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Bill eliminates copays and cost-sharing for follow-up breast exams

Maleni Ferrari

Lawmakers approved a bill in the just-ended legislative session that requires insurance plans to waive cost-sharing for breast examinations.

Currently under the Affordable Care Act, all women can get preventative mammogram screenings at no cost. But if the mammogram requires a follow-up exam to determine if a patient is at risk of cancer, many health insurance plans require patients to pay a portion of that cost and that’s when the bills start adding up.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Stefanics from Bernalillo co-sponsored House Bill 27 and says that patients face hundreds if not thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

"As we all know, early detection and diagnosis is key to positive outcomes," she said. "But with the high costs associated with follow-up imaging, many women put off or never go for their follow-ups because they cannot afford it."

Democratic Majority Whip Michael Padilla says he’s seen success from other states that have passed similar laws.

"I actually have learned a lot about this topic and the individuals that have seen success and have really helped a lot of their residents and their patients that have had to go through this," he said.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 1700 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in New Mexico and over 300 will die.

The Breast Exam Health Coverage bill passed on March 9 and since it passed before the last three days of the session, it does not require the governor’s signature to become law.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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