Torricelli and Maloney Seek to Improve Access to Osteoporosis Screening

May 3, 2001
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today introduced legislation to ensure that individuals at high risk for osteoporosis have access to screening tests for the disease. The Early Detection and Prevention of Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases Act of 2001 will require private insurance plans to cover bone mass (bone density) measurement testing for those at risk for developing the disease.

Approximately 28 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it, and 80 percent those at risk are women. Every year, there are 1.5 million bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. Half of all women and one-eighth of all men, age 50 or older, will suffer a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.

Since there is no known cure for osteoporosis, the most effective way to reduce the prevalence and cost of the disease is through prevention and early diagnosis. As a result, bone mass measurement tests are crucial to early detection because ordinary x-rays do not detect osteoporosis until the disease is so advanced that 25 to 40 percent of bone mass has been lost.

"All too often, women are diagnosed with osteoporosis after it is too late - once they have already suffered a bone fracture. This is inexcusable when we have the technology to detect this disease early, and to treat it before it problems. This bill will ensure that women with private health insurance will have access to this critical test," said Senator Torricelli.

"Osteoporosis is a disease that has no symptoms and usually remains undiagnosed until a fracture occurs. Today, at the beginning of Osteoporosis Prevention Month, I am pleased to introduce a bill that requires private health insurance plans to cover a bone mass measurement test for qualified men and women who are at risk for developing osteoporosis," Congresswoman Maloney said today. "Bone mass measurement is a non-invasive, painless and reliable way to diagnose osteoporosis before costly fractures occur. The average cost to treat one hip fracture is $32,000, while a simple bone density test costs an average of $250. I believe this legislation will make a huge difference for defending men and women from osteoporosis."

The legislation introduced by Senator Torricelli and Congresswoman Maloney is supported by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the American Medical Women's Association, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, The National Association of Orthopedic Nurses, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Health Promotion Institute.