Legislation To Increase Medicare Reimbursement For Mammograms

Armen Hareyan's picture

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said he plans to introduce a bill thisweek that would increase Medicare reimbursement rates for mammograms,with the aim of reversing a decline in the number of women receivingthe exams, the Orlando Sentinel reports.Weiner said the measure, called the "Assure Access to Mammography Act,"would help clinics offering mammograms stay open.


According toa report released last week by Weiner, the number of mammographyclinics nationwide has decreased by more than 1,200, or 12%, since 1999(Wessel, Orlando Sentinel, 7/31). The average cost for amammogram has increased by 25% to $125 since 2005, while the Medicarereimbursement increased by 2% to $83.69 during the same time period,the report found. Sixty-seven mammography facilities have closed in NewYork City since 1999, a 26% decrease, according to the report (Weiner release, 7/22). The number of certified mammography clinics in Florida also decreased from 505 to 456 since 2001, according to the American Cancer Society.

NinaEntrekin, director of cancer prevention and detection for ACS's Floridadivision, said low Medicare reimbursements for mammograms has causedmany clinics to close, leaving longer wait times at other clinics thatmight discourage some women from undergoing the screening (Orlando Sentinel, 7/31). Wait times for mammograms in New York City have increased 171% in the last decade, according Weiner's report.

"Increasingaccess to mammograms clearly saves lives," Weiner said, adding,"Raising the reimbursement rate will ensure that women have increasedoptions to protect their most important asset, their health" (Weinerrelease, 7/22). Entrekin said that if the decline in national mammogramrates during the past five years is not reversed, breast cancermortality rates could increase (Orlando Sentinel, 7/31).

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