Washington, D.C. – MITA today applauded Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) for their successful leadership in urging the Department of Defense to expand TRICARE coverage for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) screening mammography. Following legislative and other advocacy efforts by these lawmakers in both the House and Senate, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery confirmed that TRICARE would approve provisional coverage of DBT for screening purposes in a letter sent to Senator McSally’s office in late November.
“The Defense Department’s recent decision is due, in part, to the tireless efforts of these lawmakers on behalf of our nation’s servicewomen,” said Dennis Durmis, VP – Radiology Head of Americas Region, Bayer and Chair of the MITA Board of Directors. “Ensuring that former and current members of the U.S. military have equal access to advanced screening options is of paramount importance. We commend these lawmakers for amplifying this issue – their success provides a powerful example of the effectiveness of dedicated advocacy in producing substantive reforms.”
Previously, TRICARE was the only national payer not to cover screening DBT, which is a state-of-the-art 3D mammography tool that improves the ability of doctors to detect cancer and other abnormalities, particularly for women with dense breasts. The Department of Defense’s recent approval for TRICARE coverage of DBT is provisional and will be effective January 1, 2020. Provisional coverage, however, requires prior authorization, putting up another potential barrier for servicewomen seeking this benefit.
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“This is a major step forward, but more work remains to be done,” Durmis said. “We look forward to supporting efforts with the Better and Robust Screening Today Act, which would mandate TRICARE screening coverage without prior authorization and formalize coverage equity for U.S. servicewomen.”