Their summer recess now in the rear view mirror, House and Senate members will return to Harrisburg on Monday, Sept. 23, with health care clearly on the agenda. Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA proposal will get a lot of attention, and rightly so.

Here at PAMED we’re excited that the Governor has embraced several of our initiatives, including student loan forgiveness, an apology law, and the creation of a controlled substance database. The latter two could see legislative action early this fall. Regulation of tanning salons could also be considered.

But the issue I want to talk about today is breast density. The House Health Committee has scheduled a public hearing the week of Sept. 23-27 on House Bill 1586 and Senate Bill 358, identical bills that would require mammography facilities to provide breast density information to patients, along with a notice that they might want to talk to their physician about additional tests if they have dense breast tissue and other risk factors.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes the bills, due to the concern that they could push women toward additional imaging and tests that may not be warranted. PAMED also opposes the bills, but for a more basic reason. We believe it is inappropriate for the legislature to mandate elements of the interaction between physicians and their patients. Not only does it set a bad precedent, but it puts the legislature in the position of having to amend the law every time a new and improved treatment protocol becomes available.

Unfortunately, I suspect that one or the other of these bills will be fast-tracked, with the symbolic goal of putting legislation on the Governor’s desk during October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a former legislator, I understand that sometimes bad legislation is good politics. This looks like one of those situations.