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More free breast cancer screenings are part of Albany agreement

Sandra Lee attends the State of the State

Sandra Lee attends the State of the State address of Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center Albany on Jan. 13, 2016. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY — Women will get far more access to breast cancer screenings statewide with no out-of-pocket costs under a new legislative agreement.

More than 200 hospitals and clinics will provide more hours on weekends for breast cancer screenings while governments and schools will provide time each year for women to get screened and private-sector employers will be urged to do the same, according to the deal struck Sunday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders.

New York City government workers will join public-sector workers receiving four hours off from work each year to receive breast cancer screenings. The $91 million state initiative also will eliminate annual deductibles and insurance co-payments for mammograms, including women as young as intheir 40s. Under the deal, women determined to be at high risk of breast cancer wouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for frequent mammograms, breast ultrasounds, breast MRIs.

“The bottom line is that this legislation is going to save lives,” said Dr. Maureen Killackey, chairwoman of the state Cancer Detection and Education Program Advisory Council. “This is a truly patient-centered action. Extended and increased screening hours, and reduced financial barriers to high-quality screening services, will ensure that New York State women will have access to earlier breast cancer detection.”

Cuomo made the legislation a priority during the last year as his longtime partner, food TV host and author Sandra Lee, battled and recovered from breast cancer.

“There will be no copay or deductible for mammograms in the state of New York,” said Cuomo. “The best, best treatment is still early detection . . . please, please, please get the mammogram done.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said the deal with Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will allow “women to get the screenings they need and deserve.”

“The addition of mobile mammography vans will strengthen our fight against breast cancer by offering preventative services to communities that otherwise did not have access,” said Heastie (D-Bronx). “Breast cancer touches the lives of so many women — our wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. This agreement represents our commitment to limiting its impacts by increasing awareness and making sure that women have access to the affordable breast cancer screenings they need to ensure lifesaving early detection.”

The 2016 legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday.

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