Congress introduces bill to cover DBT exams for TRICARE beneficiaries

A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently introduced a bill to cover digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) screening exams for service members and their families.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced the “Better and Robust Screening Today Act,” which would mandate the Department of Defense to cover DBT screenings, a modality the lawmakers say is the best tool available for detecting breast cancer.

McSally, a veteran herself, said that while the Department of Veteran Affairs does cover DBT, under TRICARE, the screening is only paid for as a secondary option.

"Service members and their families sacrifice so much and deserve the best healthcare and technology available,” McSally said in a statement. “There is simply no good reason to deny DBT screening, the latest breast cancer imaging technology, to Tricare patients.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), U.S. House Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) joined McSally to introduce the legislation, championing the bill as an “important fix” to the healthcare system.

The bill comes nearly four months after Congress, including Rep. Houlahan, penned a letter to the Military Health System urging its leadership to include DBT coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries.

DBT has been shown to detect more cancers in women with dense breasts, who now make up 40% of the over 40 population.

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance put out its own statement Monday, Nov. 25, praising the new legislation.

“MITA applauds the introduction of the Better and Robust Screening Today Act, which will ensure our nation’s servicewomen have the coverage necessary to receive the right breast cancer diagnostic technology for them,” Patrick Hope, executive director of MITA, said in the statement. “We will continue to support these ongoing efforts and commend lawmakers for fighting to ensure that former and current members of the U.S. military whose mammograms show they have dense breast tissue have access to the same advanced screening options as those with private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.”