FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legislation supported by Representative La Shawn K. Ford and ZERO is a significant win in the fight against prostate cancer
Springfield, IL, April 1, 2022 – ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer is proud to support a lifesaving legislative effort that was passed yesterday by the Illinois General Assembly. Illinois HB 5318, which was introduced in January of 2022, will increase access to prostate cancer screening by ensuring that screening is available without co-pays or other cost-sharing. This newly approved legislation, offered by Representative La Shawn K. Ford, a prostate cancer survivor, is part of ZERO’s “ZERO Cost to Prostate Cancer Screening Initiative” – an effort to make prostate cancer screening free and accessible to all men.
Illinois HB 5318, which was also supported by the American Urological Association and American Association of Clinical Urologists, and a coalition of patient and provider groups, will provide “coverage for an annual prostate cancer screening for male insureds, without imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement.” This includes PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing and digital rectal examinations, in addition to “subsequent follow-up testing as directed by a healthcare provider, including, but not limited to, urinary analysis, serum biomarkers, and medical imaging.”
“Removing barriers such as financial roadblocks makes early detection more accessible and affordable for men, and helps save lives,” said Jamie Bearse, ZERO’s CEO and President. “ZERO commends Representative Ford for his courage to share his own prostate cancer story in order to save the lives of men in Illinois, and is proud to have led the advocacy effort in support of this influential legislation.”
Rep. Ford is a prostate cancer survivor who was diagnosed with aggressive stage 4 prostate cancer at the age of 48. Initially discouraged by his doctors to be screened for prostate cancer due to his young age, he was later screened and diagnosed with the disease.
“I know the personal cost of waiting too long to be diagnosed with prostate cancer – including more aggressive treatment, more side effects, and more anguish for a man and his loved ones,” said Representative Ford. “For Black men especially, early prostate cancer screening and diagnosis can be the difference between successful treatment and a life that ends too soon. I’m proud to know that, because of HB 5318, the cost of screening won’t be a barrier for so many men in Illinois.”
Early detection is key to survival, as 98% of men survive at least five years when prostate cancer is caught early. However, according to the American Cancer Society, for “distant” prostate cancer, or cancer that has spread to bones, organs, or distant lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate drops from 98% to 31%.
“The passing of Illinois HB 5318 is a tremendous win for men’s health in the state of Illinois,” said Alison Manson, ZERO’s Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy. “Eliminating out of pocket costs for prostate cancer screening removes a key barrier to early prostate cancer diagnosis – allowing more high risk men to be diagnosed at the early stages, when they are most likely to survive.”
The bill is expected to be signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in the coming months. Illinois will follow in the footsteps of New York, which in January of 2019 became the first state in the country to pass a law that supports full insurance coverage of the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test, as well as Maryland and Rhode Island, all of which have eliminated co-pays or cost-sharing fees for prostate cancer screening.
For more information on advocacy efforts regarding prostate cancer across the nation, visit zerocancer.org/advocacy.
About ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer
ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer is the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer and help all who are impacted. ZERO advances research, provides support, and creates solutions to achieve health equity to meet the most critical needs of our community. From early detection to survivorship, ZERO is the premier resource for prostate cancer patients and their families to access comprehensive support, make meaningful connections, and take action to save lives. Our dedicated national and chapter staff is joined with a growing team of passionate volunteer champions to increase advocacy, awareness, and community engagement to ZERO out prostate cancer. ZERO is recognized with four out of four stars by Charity Navigator and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. ZERO spends more on programs than any other prostate cancer charity, dedicating 85 cents of every dollar to support, education, and research.