Early detection and treatment of cancer saves lives

Cancer screenings offer a way for individuals to find out any signs of cancer in a particular area(s) of the body before the onset of any symptoms. These screenings can help find cancer in its early stages, and in doing so that can make treatments or finding a cure easier. In short, cancer screenings help save lives. 

Early detection is vital when it comes to cancer screenings. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. When caught in its earliest stages, the five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer survival rates have increased significantly as advances in early detection and treatment methods have been made. 

Illinois House Republicans have been at the forefront of legislation to expand insurance coverage for screenings and treatments, along with raising cancer screening awareness. Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) sponsored a bill that required both private insurance and Medicaid to cover preventative measures to detect breast cancer. Public Act 101-0580 was signed into law and took effect on January 1, 2020. This legislation provided that mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs are covered when deemed medically necessary by a physician, advanced practice nurse, or physician assistant. The bill included strong Republican support and passed unanimously through both the House and Senate.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) requires that health insurers provide coverage for proton beam therapy cancer treatment. House Bill 2799 provided that insurance companies cannot apply a higher standard of clinical evidence for proton beam therapy coverage than any other form of radiation therapy treatment. Proton Beam therapy is currently available at numerous locations in Illinois. 

“Proton therapy is a very effective treatment for certain types of cancer,” stated Rep. Hammond. “The legislation I introduced was for a constituent that had brain cancer and was told that proton therapy was the option she should take for her treatment. However, it was not an in-network expense and she had to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.”

Rep. Jennifer Sanalitro (R-Hanover Park) also heeded the call to help families by sponsoring House Bill 3202, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage for medically necessary at-home saliva tests that pre-screen for cancer. This legislation increases access to at-home saliva tests and promotes early cancer detection. 

“Early cancer detection not only saves lives, but it also helps to decrease costs as late-stage cancer therapies are extremely expensive,” Rep. Sanalitro stated.