Lawmakers rejected proposal to create free skin cancer screenings in Florida
A bipartisan bill proposing full insurance coverage of skin cancer screenings died in the Florida Senate, despite melanoma cases and deaths rising.
With the number of melanoma deaths expected to rise in 2023, state lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to make test screenings free.
But the bill, which would’ve required insurers to fully cover annual screenings, died in the Florida Senate. Having passed in the House of Representatives, it was referred to a committee, where it failed.
Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson co-sponsored the bill to make screenings more accessible. She plans to bring the bill back next year.
“I don't see why we could not see the importance of this in the bill and move it forward to take it to the finish line,” she said. “We need to make sure that we have measures in place.”
Between 2016 and 2020, roughly 630 Floridians died each year from melanoma, according to the Florida Cancer Data System. Nationally, the number of deaths is expected to increase by 4.4%, according to the American Cancer Society.
State Rep. Ralph Massullo, a dermatologist, proposed this bill so patients could receive screenings without having a co-pay.
“Skin cancer is one of the easier cancers to cure if caught early,” Massullo said, “If caught late, particularly with melanoma, it can be expensive to treat, and deadly.”
Dr. Sima Jain, president of the Florida Academy of Dermatology, said since melanoma is visible, invasive testing isn’t needed to catch it early.
“When melanoma spreads, survival drops significantly, and the cost also increases exponentially,” she said. “It makes so much sense to focus on prevention because not only can we save lives but we can also contain costs.”
If detected early, there is a 99% five year survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society.
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