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Minnesota Bill Would Increase Access to Genetic Testing

News
Article

The bill would remove financial for genetic testing determined to be clinically appropriate.

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Genetic testing can help women learn if they are at significant risk for breast cancer. These tests can identify patients who have inherited high risk genes which increase their odds of developing the deadly disease. Once these genes are identified, doctors can put patients on a plan for early testing and screenings.

The earlier the cancer is caught, the more likely it is to be cured. Unfortunately, for many women, the biggest barrier between them and this testing is the cost.

According to a press release1 from breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen, a bill has been introduced in Minnesota that would help remove these financial barriers and allow more women access to this critical genetic testing.

Representative Patty Acomb introduced bill HF 5050, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for multi-gene panel testing, which is used to identify inherited gene mutations. The goal of the bill is to provide more individuals with critical information that may save their lives.

In a press release, Susan G Komen’s vice president of policy and advocacy Molly Guthrie said, “Passage of this legislation will allow patients to better understand their lifetime cancer risk and access to needed risk reduction and treatment strategies. Individuals should have all information needed to make informed decisions about their healthcare without burdensome financial barriers."

In the same press release, Rep. Patty Acomb said, “This legislation will ensure patients have equitable access to information concerning their lifetime risk of cancer, allowing them to make key decisions regarding risk reducing strategies and recommended screenings for early detection.”

Early detection is incredibly important when it comes to breast cancer. Actress Olivia Munn recently made headlines when she announced that she had undergone treatment for breast cancer after being diagnosed in 2023. According to CBS News,2 Munn had undergone a test for cancer genes and received a mammogram in February, 2023. At the time, no warning signs were detected, but her doctor decided to perform further risk assessment for cancer.

That resulted in Munn getting an MRI and then an ultrasound, which revealed cancer that Munn described as aggressive and fast moving. She credited the doctor’s decision to perform further risk assessment with saving her life.

Similarly, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy after learning through genetic testing that she carried a genetic mutation that put her at increased risk. Jolie decided to get the genetic testing due to her family’s history of cancer (her mother, grandmother, and aunt died from cancer). According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School in 2016,3 Jolie’s story inspired an increase in genetic testing. At the time, it was reported that the average cost of genetic testing was $3,000.

Sources

  1. Bill Introduced in Minnesota Would Increase Access To Genetic Testing. Susan G. Komen for the Cure. March 28, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bill-introduced-in-minnesota-would-increase-access-to-genetic-testing-302102912.html
  2. Sundby, Alex. Olivia Munn Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Says She Underwent Double Mastectomy. CBS News. March 14, 2024. Accessed March 28, 204. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/olivia-munn-breast-cancer-diagnosed/
  3. Igoe, Katherine. The Angelina Jolie Effect. Harvard Medical School. December 14, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2024. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/angelina-jolie-effect
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