Imaging group applauds legislation granting Tricare beneficiaries permanent DBT coverage

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance on Monday applauded federal lawmakers for ensuring veterans, service members and their families have permanent access to top breast screening exams.

U.S. House members included an amendment mandating Tricare beneficiaries receive permanent coverage for digital breast tomosynthesis in a recently passed National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021. DBT has proven to be more effective than traditional mammography, notably in the millions of women with dense breasts, MITA said in a July 27 statement.

“America's active duty service members and their families deserve access to the same advanced screening diagnostics as those with private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid," said the group’s Executive Director Patrick Hope. "With the inclusion of this amendment in the 2021 NDAA, lawmakers continue the bipartisan practice of putting U.S. service members' health and wellbeing first."

This amendment follows numerous Congressional efforts seeking to expand DBT screening to service members. In particular, last November, Senator Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Representative Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., successfully lobbied the Department of Defense to approve provisional coverage for such exams. The vote, however, meant coverage could be yanked at any time and would last only five years.

"Service members and their families sacrifice so much and deserve the best healthcare and technology available,” McSally said in a Nov. 2019 statement. “There is simply no good reason to deny DBT screening, the latest breast cancer imaging technology, to Tricare patients.”

This current change would make coverage permanent, which is “more important now than ever before” given the global pandemic, Hope added.