Tester: Improve access to breast cancer screening
Senator backs bipartisan bill supporting mammography vans
(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is backing bipartisan legislation to help more Montana women get life-saving breast cancer screenings.
Tester is co-sponsoring a bill that allows mobile mammography vehicles to buy fuel without paying the federal gas tax, helping health care providers cover more miles to reach and screen more women for breast cancer in rural areas.
Tester said increasing access to breast cancer screenings will save lives in Montana, where cost, lack of awareness, and limited access often prevent women from getting screened. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Montana.
“Attacking breast cancer early on will help Montana women get a jump on this deadly disease,” Tester said. “Improving access to screenings will not only lead to more early diagnoses and saved lives, but it will also raise awareness among women in rural areas.”
Tester’s bill, which will provide van operators with gas tax refunds, is modeled after several successful fuel tax exemptions, such as the one for blood banks.
Tester cited St. Vincent Healthcare’s mammography vehicle in Billings as one potential beneficiary. In May 2010, when St. Vincent’s vehicle first conducted screenings, it tested 800 women and diagnosed seven with breast cancer. According to St. Vincent’s, the normal detection rate is one case per 1,000 tests.
Tester is a staunch advocate for women’s health, particularly increasing access to care in rural areas. In August, he announced that the U.S. Defense Department would once again cover a breast cancer test that identifies changes to genes that increase the likelihood of cancer.
Tester’s bipartisan bill is also supported by Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.).