Bipartisan legislation that may help to eliminate financial barriers to prostate cancer screening was introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Boozman (R-AR), the Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening for High-Risk Insured Men (PSA Screening for HIM) Act would waive cost-sharing requirements for men with the highest risk of prostate cancer, focusing on Black men and those with a family history of the disease.
If the legislation is passed, men at high risk of developing prostate cancer would be able to get prostate cancer screenings with no out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, copayments, or coinsurances.
The Senate introduction of the PSA Screening for HIM Act comes several months after the bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), with Representatives Neal Dunn, MD, (R-FL) and Troy Carter (D-LA) as original cosponsors.
“Costs shouldn’t impose a barrier between people and life-saving health screening services,” said Sen. Booker. “Prostate cancer is a serious health concern, especially for [Black] men and men with a family history of this disease, as they are more likely to face diagnosis and mortality. This bipartisan legislation would make prostate cancer screenings more accessible to all high-risk men, so we can reduce health disparities and increase early detection to save lives.”
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States. When the disease is found early, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%; however, when the disease is found in its advanced stages, the likelihood of survival drops to 32%.
“Diagnosing prostate cancer early is imperative to successful treatment. I know from personal experience in my own family the impact this disease has on patients and their loved ones. Increasing access to early screening for at-risk men will save lives. I am proud to be a voice in Congress for all those affected, because together, we can help keep prostate cancer treatable and raise needed awareness,” said Sen. Boozman.
Support From Research and Patient Organizations
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), ZERO Prostate Cancer, the American Urological Association (AUA), and the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) support the PSA Screening for HIM Act and are working to pass legislation at both the state and federal levels that will eliminate out-of-pocket costs for patients and improve access to prostate cancer screenings.
“Every step toward eliminating financial barriers to prostate cancer screening is a win for men and their families, particularly those at the highest risk for the disease. We applaud the introduction of the PSA for HIM legislation aimed at making prostate cancer screening accessible to all,” said Courtney Bugler, President and Chief Executive Officer of ZERO Prostate Cancer. “By ensuring that every individual has the opportunity for early detection and timely intervention, we are advancing significant progress to safeguard the health of our communities.”
“The introduction of the Senate companion to the PSA for HIM Act is a tremendous win for prostate cancer patients,” said Eugene Rhee, MD, MBA, Chair of the AUA’s Public Policy Council. “This legislation will ensure that people who are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer are able to access screenings without cost-sharing barriers. Receiving regular PSA screenings can be the difference between catching this cancer early and being diagnosed with metastatic disease. Patient advocacy is vital to our work in public policy, and we stand together with ZERO on behalf of urology practices across the country.”
The PSA Screening for HIM Act may also be critical for reducing prostate cancer disparities and improving health outcomes for those at the highest risk of prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of prostate cancer among Black men is more than 70% higher than in White men. Black men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer when compared with White men. Moreover, having a first-degree relative with prostate cancer more than doubles the chance of developing the disease.
“We know that financial barriers can impact a person's ability to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer,” said Lisa A. Lacasse, President of ACS CAN. “The PSA Screening for HIM Act will help remove a major obstacle that can prevent those at high risk for the disease from getting the screenings they need to find prostate cancer at the earliest, most treatable stage. We urge the House and the Senate to pass this legislation to help reduce prostate cancer disparities and save more lives.”
“Increasing the rate of prostate cancer early detection screening for Black men is vital to reducing the death rate disparity, which is the largest for any of the major cancers. The PSA Screening for HIM Act will be a strong catalyst to increase screening by removing the financial barrier that is faced by many. PHEN emphatically supports this legislation that will save countless lives and lead the way in addressing the prostate cancer racial disparity,” said Thomas A. Farrington, PHEN President and Founder.
ACS CAN, ZERO Prostate Cancer, AUA, and PHEN are also working to improve access to prostate cancer screenings at the state level. Legislation is pending in California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC, that would ensure screening is available without co-pays or other cost-sharing. This past year, Illinois passed legislation to make prostate cancer screening available without co-pays or other cost-sharing, which will go into effect in 2024. Illinois will follow New York, which became the first state in the country to pass a law that supports full insurance coverage of the prostate-specific antigen blood test, along with Maryland and Rhode Island, all of which have eliminated co-pays or cost-sharing fees for prostate cancer screening.The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.