Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act and the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments Act (SERVICE) Act, legislation she introduced in the House to expand mammography and breast cancer screenings and life-saving care for veterans nationwide. House passage of the two Brownley bills sends them directly to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
“Our nation’s veterans should always be provided the high-quality, timely health care and services they need within the VA system. The passage of these two bills, expanding access to life-saving mammography services, gets us closer to realizing VA’s mission and upholding our solemn promise to serve our veterans as well as they have served us,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley.
“Too often, many women veterans are forced to go outside the VA network to access essential health care, like mammography services. This places an unnecessary burden on the millions of women who have served our nation in uniform and perpetuates the already stark inequalities and disparities in care for women veterans.
“Additionally, ensuring veterans have access to breast cancer screenings should not depend solely on factors, such as the length of time after the veteran’s separation from military service or the veteran’s age. Instead, veterans’ care must also take into account whether a veteran was exposed to toxic substances that could increase cancer risk, regardless of age or other factors.
“The MAMMO for Veterans Act and Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act provide necessary expansions to the existing systems of care to ensure that every veteran has access to comprehensive mammography care through VA facilities across our country.
“I applaud today’s House-passage of my bills, and I thank my colleagues in both chambers of Congress for supporting these life-saving, preventive health care measures. Given President Biden’s commitment to our nation’s veterans, I expect he will quickly sign these important bills into law.”
Congresswoman Brownley serves as Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. She introduced the House version of the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act (H.R. 4794/S. 2533), which Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) authored in the Senate. The bill seeks to expand and improve the mammography services available to veterans within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. Specifically, the bill will:
- Require VA to develop a strategic plan for mammography,
- Create a telemammography program to expand high-quality screening to veterans who live in states without access to VA mammography,
- Require VA to upgrade all breast imaging to 3D mammography;
- Directs VA to study and expand access to BRCA testing (genetic testing for breast cancer);
- Require VA to study mammography accessibility for paralyzed and disabled veterans;
- Direct the VA Inspector General to review access to and quality of VA mammography; and
- Expand partnerships for veterans’ breast cancer care, research, and clinical trials with the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Congresswoman Brownley co-authored the House version of the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act (H.R. 4571/S. 2102), which Senator John Boozman (R-AR) authored in the Senate. The bill directs the VA to provide mammography screenings to veterans regardless of their age or time separated from the military if they served in an area with toxic exposure, as toxic exposure can significantly increase cancer risks.
In March, when the House considered the Honoring our PACT Act (H.R. 3967), Brownley and Miller-Meeks offered their bill as an amendment, which passed the House by a unanimous vote of 425-0.
The bill has been named after Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine Corps veteran and tireless veterans’ advocate, who tragically passed away from breast cancer on April 5, 2022 at the age of 42. Dr. Thomas was a staunch advocate for helping her fellow veterans, many of whom, like her, were exposed to burn pits during their military service.
Today, the MAMMO for Veterans Act passed the House by a unanimous vote of 419-0. The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act passed the House by a unanimous vote of 418-0.