Christine Stuart photo
The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday night to send a bill requiring private insurance companies to cover 3D mammography to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk.

Sen. Joe Crisco, D-Woodbridge, whose wife is currently going through breast cancer treatments, fought back tears as he talked about how his wife had annual mammograms and checkups every four months, and yet has been fighting breast cancer for two months now.

“Chemotherapy treatments, surgery, and now she faces 12 sessions of radiation,” Crisco said. “This new technology is offering new opportunities for physicians to diagnose breast cancer in women and provide life saving treatments earlier than ever.”

He said all breast cancers can be treated if they’re found early.

The bill passed the House earlier this week 139-3. It was a priority of House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, but it was an issue against which the Insurance Department and the insurance industry lobbied heavily.

The Insurance Department distributed its own fiscal note, which said mandating coverage of this technology would cost more than $9 million in 2017. They said the state would be responsible for covering the added costs for all members on the insurance exchange, in addition to state employees.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the state would be responsible for paying benefits beyond those included in the required essential health benefits, according to the Insurance Department. But proponents of the legislation weren’t convinced that’s the case since mammography is already a covered benefit and this is just a different type of mammography.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis found it will cost between $139,000 and $572,000 in 2017 and between $275,000 and $1.14 million in 2018 to cover state employees who choose 3D mammography as an option.

“The measure does not require medical provider to use Tomosynthesis screening, but affords providers with the option knowing that a patient’s insurance will cover it,” Klarides said.

Klarides said this is a technology covered by both Medicaid and Medicare. She said “regular middle class” people should also have access to this technology, too.

Sen. Rob Kane, R-Waterford, said he struggled a little bit with the bill until he spoke with an oncologist friend and learned more about its benefits.

“It will actually save lives, but it will also save money due to the lack of comebacks,” Kane said.

The technology is better at preventing false positives, and would prevent repeat mammograms.

Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, said the bill is not a mandate. It simply gives patients on option to choose this technology.

“This is a wonderful win tonight for women in Connecticut who need the best technology possible in detecting breast cancer early,” Linda Kowalski, a lobbyist for the Radiology Society of Connecticut, said.

During debate on the bill Wednesday, Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, pointed out that one of the manufacturers of 3D mammography equipment — Hologic — is located in Danbury.