WASHINGTON – A pair of legislative initiatives championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) breast cancer screening policies and the delivery of lifesaving care for women veterans unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday and are headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“We are now one signature away from ensuring veterans have access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings. I urge the president to quickly approve these bills and make them law so we can expand VA tools and resources to deliver the preventative care and treatments these valiant, dedicated former servicemembers have earned,” said Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
The Boozman-authored Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act will require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.
The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine veteran and public health professional who was unaware of her increased risk for breast cancer as a result of her deployment to Iraq. During a routine medical exam in 2018 she was advised to undergo a mammogram and was subsequently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 38. Dr. Thomas fought for passage of this bill until she sadly passed away last month.
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Boozman and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act, which Boozman led,will require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute. The legislation would also require the VA to upgrade all in-house breast imaging to 3D mammography, which is considered the gold standard of imaging technology.
Boozman worked with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce the legislation along with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The senator delivered remarks applauding Senate passage of both proposals in March.
These legislative accomplishments come on the heels of House passage of the Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021. The Boozman-led bill expanding oversight authority of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) was approved on Tuesday and is expected to be signed into law.