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Rep. Higgins pushes to make lung cancer screenings more accessible

H.R.9336 would make it easier for more Americans to get screened for lung cancer.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With less than six-percent of people who are eligible for a lung cancer screening actually getting one, a Western New York politician is pushing make those screenings more accessible for more people.

This is something Congressman Brian Higgins is prioritizing on the federal level. He's proposed legislation to increase access, especially for people in under-served communities.

In the United States, lung cancer kills more people than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined, but only about six-percent of people who are eligible for a screening get one. 

Among other things, this bill would amend the Social Security Act to require all state Medicaid programs to cover lung cancer screenings for eligible enrollees and stops insurers from making you get prior authorization to get screened each year.

"This bill expands coverage for and improves access to lung cancer screening. It also provides new coverage for tobacco cessation, as smoking is a major cause of lung cancer. Our bill builds on the work of Buffalo's Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I ask my colleagues to join me and Representative Castor in supporting this legislation. It will enhance the goals set through the President's cancer moon shot to save lives and end cancer as we know it," Rep. Brian Higgins.

Higgins' announcement comes just days after Roswell Park, along with the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department, announced that every firefighter in the city will be able to get screened for lung cancer using Eddy, Roswell's mobile screening unit.

"From November of '98 up through June of 2017, I did most of the disabilities for the fire department, and one of the things that was not included as a disability is lung cancer. It's just the craziest thing you ever heard," said Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. 

So what happens next? The bill was just introduced and referred to committees November 17, so it's still early in the legislative process.

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