Biden signs MAMMO Act to improve breast imaging for veterans

By Brian Casey, staff writer

June 7, 2022 -- President Joe Biden on June 7 signed the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act (the MAMMO Act), legislation that would improve breast imaging services for military veterans.

The legislation includes a variety of provisions that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to upgrade and expand the range of breast imaging and treatment services it offers to veterans. Major provisions in the act include the following:

  • A requirement to upgrade all VA facilities to digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography)
  • Implementation of a three-year pilot program to provide telescreening mammography services in areas where access to a VA facility is difficult
  • Submission of a strategic plan for improving breast imaging services for veterans
  • Creation of guidelines to increase the use of molecular testing and genetic counseling for veterans who have been diagnosed with breast cancer
  • A review of the accessibility of breast imaging services at VA sites for veterans who have paralysis, spinal cord injuries or disorders, or other kinds of disabilities
  • A report authored by the VA inspector general to the VA and U.S. Congress on mammography services provided by the VA

The MAMMO Act also requires that each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) enter into a partnership with at least one cancer center of the U.S. National Cancer Institute to ensure that women veterans have access to high-quality cancer care. Veterans in rural areas should be able to receive care through telehealth, the legislation stipulates.

Passage and signature of the MAMMO Act was lauded by veteran's groups, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which noted that women are one of the fastest-growing populations of veterans yet are at higher risk for breast cancer than civilian women.

The group further noted that across the 171 VA medical centers in the U.S., just 69 have mammography screening equipment available, and not all of these sites are accessible to female veterans with physical disabilities.

In fact, in 2021 Anne Robinson, a woman veteran who is an executive with a Paralyzed Veterans of America chapter in Texas, was injured during a routine mammography exam at a VA center. Parts of Robinson's wheelchair had to be disassembled for her to enter the screening room, and she had to be lifted up to the machine for her exam, resulting in a shoulder injury.

Copyright © 2022

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