This October is a Breast Cancer Awareness Month to remember in Illinois

Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month across the nation, but this year especially, we have reason to take notice of this cause here in our own community. Local breast cancer screening rates have fallen below the state and national average. DeKalb County’s breast cancer screening rate is 65%. The statewide average is 78%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

My family, like so many others in our community, has been impacted by women battling breast cancer. As a husband and father of a college age daughter, women’s health issues are a kitchen table issue in my house, just as I’m sure it is in homes across the State of Illinois. To help make a difference, I sponsored a bill this spring to broaden the availability of mammogram screening, SB 162.

On August 26, Governor Pritzker came to DeKalb to sign my bill into law at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, which just last week celebrated the opening of their new Breast Health Center. Our new law requires both private insurance and Medicaid to cover several preventative measures to help women detect breast cancer. Mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs will now be covered when deemed medically necessary by a physician, advanced practice nurse or physician assistant, effective January 1, 2020.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, upwards of ten thousand women in Illinois are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. With the new law increasing access to preventative care, early detection and treatment can help save lives.

My bill, which is now Public Act 101-0580, passed both the House of Representatives and State Senate unanimously this spring, making it a bipartisan achievement we can all be proud of. I would like to thank the breast cancer survivors and advocates whose support was pivotal in getting this new law passed. Together we will continue to make major strides to prevent breast cancer and ensure that women have access to the screenings and life-saving care they need.