Senate Unanimously Passes Tester, Boozman, Hirono, Collins Bill to Improve Veterans’ Access to Lifesaving Breast Cancer Screening & Care

Senators’ bipartisan, bicameral MAMMO for Veterans Act one step closer to becoming law

(U.S. Senate) – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to expand veterans’ access to high-quality breast cancer screening and lifesaving cancer care. This legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Senators’ Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where VA does not offer in-house mammography, and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute.

“The Senate took an important step this week to ensure every veteran has access to high-quality breast cancer screening and care—no matter where they live,” said Chairman Tester. “Our bipartisan MAMMO for Veterans Act will improve women veterans’ access to breast cancer screening and treatment, lead to earlier detection of cancers, and save more lives. We’ve got to keep delivering veterans the tools they need to fight breast cancer, and I encourage my House colleagues to pass this bill without any delay.”

“Modernizing the VA’s policies to better serve the growing population of women veterans is critical to upholding our promise to our servicemembers,” said Senator Boozman. “Expanding access to screenings, care and clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute will help us provide life-saving prevention and treatment to veterans who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Taking full advantage of the VA’s unique capabilities and resources will help veterans get the best care available. I’m pleased the Senate has taken this important step and I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to follow our example and quickly approve this legislation so it can be signed into law.”

“We have a duty to provide our veterans the care and treatment they need to stay safe and healthy after serving our country,” said Senator Hirono. “As the share of veterans who are women continues to rise, fulfilling that duty means strengthening the VA’s ability to identify, treat, and defeat breast cancer. The MAMMO for Veterans Act takes important steps toward that goal by increasing access to testing for individuals in rural areas, making upgrades to VA’s infrastructure, and fundamentally changing the Department’s approach to breast cancer testing and treatment. I’m pleased that this bill is one step closer to becoming law.” 

“We owe it to our veterans to provide them with the high-quality health care they have earned through their service to our country,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that the Senate has passed this important bill, which would improve breast cancer detection and prevention services at the VA, helping to better support those affected by this devastating disease and promote the health and well-being of our veterans.”

Numerous Veterans Service Organizations praised the lawmakers’ efforts to improve and expand veterans’ access to critical breast cancer screening and treatment.

“Not all VA medical centers have a mammography suite, and of those that do only 88 percent use 3-D screening,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Deputy Director of National Legislative Services Tammy Barlet. “Therefore, expanding access to quality breast cancer screening services is very important, especially to veterans living in rural areas. The VFW strongly supports the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act, which would require VA to carry out a mammography telescreening pilot program, upgrade VA mammography suites to 3-D digital screening, and develop a breast imaging strategic plan for veterans. We thank Senators Tester and Boozman for their continued commitment to improving veterans’ health.”

“As we continue to learn about the long-term health impacts that toxic exposures and other environmental hazards have on women veterans’ breast and reproductive health, we must prioritize early detection as part of their overall medical care,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “We are pleased to see the passage of the bipartisan Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act in the Senate. We must all be partners in advocating for our nation’s women veterans and call on the House to take swift action in moving this important legislation forward.” 

“Improving access to gender-specific healthcare, such as mammography services, is one of The American Legion’s top legislative priorities for the 117th Congress,” said American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard. “This is why we have staunchly supported the MAMMO for Veterans Act, which aims to expand VA mammography services, since its introduction last year. We are thrilled to see this comprehensive and necessary legislation move its way through the legislative process.” 

“Paralyzed Veterans of America commends the Senate's passage of the MAMMO for Veterans Act as our women veterans deserve health care that is responsive to their needs and fully equipped with access to breast imaging services and the best in mammogram technology, whether you’re disabled or not,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Associate Executive Director of Government Relations Heather Ansley. “It is a basic preventative tool that can save our lives and something we are entitled to. We appreciate the support of Senators Tester, Boozman, Hirono, and Collins in moving forward this legislation. We call on the House to pass the MAMMO for Veterans Act as soon possible to ensure both our VA and community care systems continue to swiftly evolve to meet the critical needs of all veterans, especially those with disabilities.” 

“Twenty-four percent of IAVA members live in rural areas and drive long distances for healthcare,” stated Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Executive Vice President Tom Porter. “It can already be a struggle for women veterans to access high-quality breast cancer care even without a long commute. I was proud to testify in support of this bill in Committee and IAVA applauds Senate passage of the MAMMO for Veterans Act.” 

“Wounded Warrior Project is excited to see the MAMMO for Veterans Act pass the Senate,” said Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) President of Government and Community Relations Jose Ramos. “Women are the fastest growing group in the veteran population and this legislation will ensure better access to lifesaving breast cancer screening and care.  We want to thank Senators Tester, Boozman, Hirono, and Collins for their commitment to women veterans and we encourage the House of Representatives to continue the momentum and help send this legislation to the President’s desk.”

“MOAA is excited to see the passage of S. 2533, the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act out of the Senate thanks to the hard work of veteran champions, Senators Tester, Boozman, Hirono, and Collins,” said Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President and Chief Executive Officer Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins (Ret.). “The bill provides the life-saving screening, treatment, and care for veterans diagnosed with breast cancer when the need has never been more urgent given the significantly higher risk of breast cancer and other cancers in the military population. We thank the Senate for making the bill a priority. MOAA urges the House to take up the bill and get it passed without delay.”

“Vietnam Veterans of America fully supports the swift passage of S.2533 Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act,” said Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Women Veterans Committee Chair Kate O'Hare Palmer. “This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation will broaden access to high-quality mammography and improve breast cancer research, prevention, and treatment for women veterans seeking care and treatment at the VA. We applaud Senators Tester, Boozman, Hirono, and Collins for introducing this important legislation which will enhance the quality of care for those diagnosed with breast cancer, no matter their geographic location and proximity to a VA facility.”

“Passage of the MAMMO for Veterans Act upgrades the Veterans Health Administration’s ability to provide early detection and state-of-the-art treatment for all veterans suffering from breast cancer no matter where they live, no matter what other disabilities they’ve acquired during their service,” said Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Director of Government Operations Captain Lory Manning (Ret.). “It’s necessary and proper legislation.”

“The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) applauds the United States Senate for passing Senators Tester, Boozman, Hirono and Collins’ legislation to improve veterans’ access to high-quality mammography and breast cancer care, specifically for veterans in rural communities,” said National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Chief Executive Officer Alan Morgan. “The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act will improve access to screening, care, and treatment for rural veterans by allowing for care partnerships to be created via telehealth. NRHA urges the House of Representatives to quickly pass this important legislation. Veterans’ are the backbone of rural America, and ensuring their wellbeing and access to critical services like mammography and breast cancer care is essential.”

Full text of the MAMMO for Veterans Act can be found HERE.