ST. PAUL — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday, Oct. 28, introduced bipartisan-backed legislation aimed at encouraging Americans to seek out preventive medical services to help detect cancer and other illnesses early.

The Minnesota Democrat put forth the proposal after she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer earlier this year and treated for the illness. And Klobuchar said it was important to promote physicals, cancer screenings and other preventive services since studies show that one in three adults have delayed or skipped medical care due to concerns about COVID-19.

“Following my breast cancer diagnosis earlier this year, this issue is personal to me," Klobuchar said. "While I was fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early stage, that is not the case for many. As a result of delays in care due to the pandemic, doctors continue to see patients who have developed more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier. With this legislation, we have an opportunity to save lives.”

The proposal would launch a public health campaign, set up a federal grant program and a task force urging Americans to seek out preventive health care services. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada; John Thune, R-S.D., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., signed on as sponsors.

Rounds, whose wife Jean was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in 2019, echoed the calls to boost awareness about the importance of preventive care.

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“Receiving regular health screenings from your doctor could save your life,” Rounds said. “The coronavirus pandemic caused many Americans to miss or delay cancer, chronic health condition and mental health care appointments. We must work to increase awareness of prevention and early detection services available in local, tribal and rural communities."

Klobuchar and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday afternoon held a virtual roundtable discussion with health care providers and American Cancer Society advocates to promote preventive services.

"This week is important because we're trying to recognize that breast cancer takes more lives than it should and we can prevent some of these cancers from really taking over if we just got women to come in earlier or as early as possible," Becerra said.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com