CHICAGO – During Breast CancerAwareness Month, state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, is drawing attention to the importance of regular health screenings for cancer, as well as a new law that expands mammogram coverage in Illinois.
“Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women,” Harper said. “It is critical that we have open conversations to learn about the risk factors and screening recommendations for breast cancer.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women ages 40 to 44 should begin consulting with their physicians about their risk factors for breast cancer, which can include aging, alcohol consumption, family history, an inactive lifestyle and obesity. From ages 45 to 54, the ACS advises that women should receive annual mammograms and that women 55 and older should switch to receiving mammograms every other year.
To help facilitate breast cancerscreenings for women, Harper sponsored Senate Bill 162, which expands coverage for mammograms in Illinois. Currently, insurers are required to cover screening mammograms as part of preventative care. If an abnormality is suspected or seen on a screening mammogram, a physician-ordered diagnostic mammogram is performed specifically to evaluate the abnormality. However, this diagnostic mammogram procedure is not considered part of preventative care. Harper’s new law mandates insurance corporations to cover diagnostic mammograms as part of preventative care, ensuring there are no co-pays as mandated by the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines for preventative health coverage.
“Early detection is critical for women who are at risk for breast cancer,” Harper added. “During BreastCancer Awareness Month, I encourage all women to perform self-exams and to regularly have a mammogram in order to preserve their health.”
Harper represents the 6th District, which includes all or portions of Armour Square, Bridgeport, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, New City, West Englewood, Marquette Park, South Loop and River North.