Kennewick Doctor, Legislator champion breast cancer coverage during Senate hearing

KENNEWICK, Wash. — In a joint effort to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, Sen. Sharon Brown and Dr. Rachel Fidino represented Kennewick at a hearing of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee last Friday.

Senate Bill 5716 was listed amongst a slate of proposed bills that spanned the logistics of health care, investments in cancer research, and state initiatives on women’s health issues.

Championed by individuals representing the best interest of women in Kennewick and Washington state as a whole, the Bill would require insurance companies to cover magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for women who are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer.

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“There have been 13 states who have passed similar legislation to Bill 5716. Without early diagnoses, cancer treatments become much more complicated and much more expensive,” Dr. Fidino testified. “This is why preventative measures not only save lives, but it makes economic sense.”

Senate asked that Dr. Fidino share her statistics with the committee so they can mull them over while deliberating through the 2022 legislative session.

Research provided by the Kennewick doctor suggests that women who are diagnosed with stage four breast cancer spend $52,000 more on average than women who catch their cancer in stage one. It goes to show that investing in early breast cancer detection can save lives and substantial amounts of money for those who experience this life-altering disease.

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Her testimony was followed by that of Elena Whitemarsh, a concerned community member who shared her personal journey of an invasive breast cancer diagnosis and what Senate Bill 5716 would’ve meant to her during her personal journey.

“I was fortunate. My cancer was caught early… I credit my early detection and intervention to the persistence of my physician and the MRI screening. This same MRI screening has been denied by my insurance plans, stating it is experimental. I’ve known dozens of women, like myself, who are at high risk and have never had an MRI because it was not covered by insurance,” Whitemarsh stated.

Ultimately, women have a great chance of surviving breast cancer when it’s detected early. According to a release from Dr. Fidino’s practice, the New U Women’s Clinic,& Aesthetics in Kennewick, the five-year survival rate for patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a local stage is 98% compared to 84% if diagnosed at the regional stage and 25% if diagnosed at the distant stage.

To hear more testimony and other information from the hearing, watch the embedded video above or click here to visit TVW.

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