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For Immediate Release
October 3, 2000
Contact: Donna Boyer
(202) 225-3026

Shaw Legislation Included in Medicare Refinement Act 
--Senior Women to Receive Annual Pap Exams, Digital Mammograms–

Washington, D.C.–Under the Medicare Refinement and Improvement Act of 2000, women on Medicare will be eligible to receive annual pap exams and digital mammograms due to the efforts of Congressman Clay Shaw.  These lifesaving benefits were included in the bill when it passed the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

“The inclusion of my two bills will help women on Medicare get the quality of cancer screening they deserve.  Caught early, both cervical and breast cancer are highly treatable.  These tests provide women with their best chance for early detection,” said Shaw. 

The first provision included in the bill is Congressman Shaw’s “Providing Annual Pap Tests to Save Women’s Lives act of 2000 .”  This bill would require Medicare to cover the cost of an annual pelvic exam and pap test for all female recipients.  Currently Medicare will only cover one exam every three years unless a doctor has certified that a woman is at “high risk .”  A 1999 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that more than 25% of invasive cervical cancer cases occur in women older than 65, and 40%-50% of all women who die from cervical cancer are over the age of 65 years.

The second provision that was included was Congressman Shaw’s “Medicare Access to Digital Mammography Act .”  This legislation would provide women on Medicare with access to new digital mammography by adjusting the payment rate so that it reflects the higher cost of breast cancer tests conducted with this new technology.

Digital mammography technology is a revolutionary tool to help diagnose breast cancer.  It provides clearer pictures for detection and diagnosis of breast cancer in its earliest, most curable stages.  For patients, digital mammography requires fewer repeat tests, lower exposure to radiation, and faster results.  However, the Medicare payment rate for screening mammography was established in law more than a decade ago and despite the fact that the rate is updated annually to account for medical price inflation, payments have not kept pace with the actual costs. 


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