The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), the voice of medical imaging and radiopharmaceutical manufacturers, innovators, and product developers, has commended Congress for including in the recently passed 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a provision mandating that TRICARE extend permanent screening coverage for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) for the nation’s service members, military families, and veterans. 

“This is a victory for our service members and their families who rightly deserve the same access to DBT that has long been available to those with private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid,” says Patrick Hope, Executive Director of MITA. “We encourage the President to sign the NDAA and ensure those who have served and sacrificed for this country have access to this innovative treatment.”

About half of women have dense breasts and would benefit from DBT breast cancer screening rather than conventional mammography. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic has called the technology the “gold standard in breast imaging” for reducing the need for biopsy and likelihood of false readings. NDAA passage will bring TRICARE in line with all other national payers who offer permanent coverage of screening DBT. 

“I am proud that my bill to address this long-standing coverage oversight has earned the support of both Democrats and Republicans,” says Representative Houlahan (D-Pa.). “DBT mammography is among the best screening approaches for breast cancer that we have for women with dense breast tissue, and this provision will ensure our military community has coverage and access to this necessary care. As chair of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Caucus, I promise to continue elevating these issues that impact our military women.”

Congresswoman Houlahan, along with former Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), notably led the effort to expand DBT screening access. In addition to urging the Department of Defense to offer provisional coverage for DBT screening mammography for TRICARE beneficiaries, they were also lead sponsors of The Better and Robust Screening Today Act to require the Department of Defense to cover DBT.

“Passage of this provision will have a positive and far-reaching impact on generations of dedicated service members and their families. We cannot overstate enough our admiration of legislators, such as Congresswoman Houlahan and former Senator McSally, for their leadership on this important issue,” Hope concludes.