OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Breast cancer survivors and Oklahoma lawmakers are calling it legislation that will save lives. At-risk patients will now get financial help to catch the deadly disease early.
House Bill 3504 was authored by both Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, it was signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt.
It will reportedly save both patients and insurance companies money and more importantly save lives by catching breast cancer earlier.
“I had found a lump when I was 25. I had gone to the doctor, she had told me that is was probably nothing. It was probably a cyst and insurance wouldn’t cover my mammogram,” said two-time cancer survivor, Sarah McLean.
So at that point, McLean didn’t get a diagnostic mammogram. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer.
Activists and lawmakers say that happens too often in Oklahoma.
“This is a huge win for early detection and cost should not be a barrier,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano.
That’s why the Democrat from Tulsa says she authored HB 3504.
It’s a new law that will require insurance companies to completely cover not just initial screenings but diagnostic mammograms too, potentially saving the patient over $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs.
“If you are not in this world, you don’t understand the magnitude of this advancement but I can’t say how grateful I am,” said McLean. “This is such a great step in the right direction to make sure that we are trying to do our best to save lives.”
“It’s a great thing for our state to be leaders in this measure to make sure we get diagnostic imaging done right away,” said Sen. Brenda Stanley.
And timing does matter. Experts say over 3,000 Oklahomans are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and over 600 die annually from the disease.
“Really, it’s going to save lives,” said Stanley.
The Republican from Midwest City also points out it not only saves the patient money but saves the insurance company money by catching the disease early before it progresses to a point needing costly surgeries.
“I’ve gotten emails from the panhandle, from Southeastern Oklahoma, just saying thank you because this has been a barrier to catching things quickly,” said Provenzano.
This bill has been signed into law by the Governor. It will take effect November 1.