After Breast Cancer Battle, Lawmaker Changes Treatment Rules


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana lawmaker's bout with breast cancer has spurred her to change how the disease is treated in the state.

Rep. Julie Stokes says she wanted to get the word out about the different kinds of health care options available for those with breast cancer after being diagnosed last year. So she introduced bills to require that insurers cover breast cancer screenings after a woman has a bilateral mastectomy and for health coverage plans to cover digital breast tomosynthesis , a procedure that creates a 3D image of a breast.

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"If I can save one person from going through a whole bunch of unnecessary misery that could have been prevented from going through the right test, it's worth it," she said.

Stokes, a Kenner Republican, said she was infuriated when a doctor told her that he wouldn't write her an order for an additional breast cancer screening following rounds of chemotherapy and her own bilateral mastectomy.

"For me it was one doctor who actually said 'I'm not writing an order for a PET scan just because you want it,' and I thought to myself 'Wow you're so sure there's not a grain of cancer,'" she said. "It was the biggest surprise coming out of the whole thing besides learning I had cancer in the first place."

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A different doctor eventually referred her to get the scan, which was covered by her insurance.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed both bills last month. They received almost no opposition in the statehouse.

Lawmakers also approved a measure to require hospitals to provide written information about reconstructive surgery options before a person has a mastectomy. That bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Troy Carter, was also signed by the governor last month.

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House Bills 690, 460 and Senate Bill 556:

– by Anthony Izaguirre, AP reporter

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