MITA backs push to include DBT screening coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) released a statement July 23 cheering lawmakers’ efforts to make digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) screening coverage standard for active and retired members of the military.

U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), along with numerous other members of Congress, addressed a letter to the Military Health System (MHS) urging its leadership to provide DBT coverage to TRICARE health beneficiaries. TRICARE is one of the few payers in the U.S. that does not include coverage for the screening exam.

“We urge the MHS to add DBT coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries – as a more efficient method of screening, it will save lives and taxpayer dollars by detecting breast cancer at an earlier, less costly stage with a higher overall chance of survival,” Houlahan and colleagues wrote in the letter addressed to Thomas McCaffrey, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, who oversees TRICARE. “Lack of DBT coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries is putting the welfare of our nation’s service members, military families, and veterans at risk. We urge positive coverage and reimbursement decision for DBT effective immediately.”

Nearly 40% of women 40 years and older have dense breast tissue and are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer than women without dense breasts. MITA says the current TRICARE policy forces those who are denied coverage for a recommended screening exam to choose between paying for the testing themselves or skipping it altogether.