Governor Andrew Cuomo
An essay from the governor about his aggressive plan to improve access to breast cancer screenings in New York state
This past year was one of the hardest that I have ever gone through personally. Just weeks after I had lost my father, my partner, Sandra Lee, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember when Sandy told me about it, I didn’t want to ask a lot of questions. I called the doctor afterward and during that conversation, I remember him saying to me, “Luckily, we caught it early.” I thought to myself, Why should it be a matter of luck that we caught it early? I mean, this is a matter of life and death. But that was the truth.
As with most cancers, but especially breast cancer, early detection is the best prevention. Sandy is cancer-free today because she got screened. And while this was undoubtedly one of the most difficult situations we have experienced, we turned it into a positive—and it is something that is going to help millions of New Yorkers.
This year we launched the “Get Screened, No Excuses” campaign. We passed a new law that removes barriers to access so more New Yorkers can get screened earlier and more often. First, this legislation eliminates annual deductibles and co-payments for mammograms. For the first time in our nation’s history, insurance companies will pay the full cost of the screening. If you have to get a second test or a follow-up, they pick up the tab for that too. Second, more than 200 hospitals will offer extended hours before 9am and after 5pm and on weekends so that people will be able to find a time that works for them. Third, many times during this process I heard from women and men, “It’s just too complicated—I don’t know where to start.” Well, now New York has a full website and patient navigators who can walk you through how to get screened, where to go and how to get coverage if you don’t have it.
Finally, the last barrier to overcome is fear. It’s too important not to find out. And while it’s OK to be afraid, there is no excuse to avoid it. We’ve gotten a lot done in this state over the past few years—$15 minimum wage, paid family leave, record investments in infrastructure and education—but this law is of particular importance to me. With 15,000 new cases of breast cancer every year in the state of New York, this is going to save lives. But the first step is up to you. New Yorkers have to make the choice to get screened—and in this state, there is no excuse not to anymore. ny.gov/programs/get-screened-no-excuses