Each year, Susan G. Komen identifies the Priority Issues that will be the focus of our advocacy efforts for the coming year (read more here). But these aren’t the only issues affecting breast cancer survivors and their loved ones! In fact, here are five pieces of legislation, supported by Komen, that have been introduced thus far during the 114th Congress (current Congress) that impact the entire breast cancer community.
1. Breast Cancer Patient Education Act (H.R.2540/S.1192)
This proposed legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create an educational campaign to inform breast cancer patients who are planning to undergo surgery for treatment – especially those in racial and ethnic minority groups – about the availability of and insurance coverage for breast reconstruction, prostheses, and other options through the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. While the decision to undergo breast reconstruction or use prostheses is a personal decision, all women should be made aware of their options and coverage.
2. Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act (H.R.716/S.370)
This legislation will provide information to women and doctors on breast density and the potential impact it has on the detection of breast cancer. To understand your personal risk, it’s important to know your family’s medical history and your personal health history, and to have a discussion about breast density with your health care provider (especially if your mammogram shows you have dense breasts). Knowledge is power, and there may be additional, appropriate screening tools if you have dense breasts.
3. Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (H.R.2739/S.1566)
The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act aims to improve access to cancer treatments by requiring insurance companies to cover drugs taken by mouth and drugs taken intravenously at the same cost to patients. It should make no difference how a drug is taken and who administers it – patients should not be forced to choose a less-appropriate treatment option simply because an insurer provides less coverage for a cancer drug that happens to be administered by mouth rather than IV. Patients and their physicians should be free to make treatment decisions based on what is best for that patient.
4. Lymphedema Treatment Act (H.R.1608)
Lymphedema can be a serious side effect of breast cancer treatment. This bill will ensure coverage for prescribed compression therapy supplies, which are the cornerstone of lymphedema treatment. Inadequately treated lymphedema can lead to costly complications and even lifelong disabilities. Covering these supplies will improve patient care, while reducing the total health care costs associated with this chronic and potentially debilitating condition.
5. Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (H.R.1600)
This legislation would limit the amount patients must spend on specialty tiered medications. That means removing insurance barriers to lifesaving treatments – even as the cost of health care continues to rise. This legislation could alleviate the financial hardship that breast cancer patients may experience due to the increased cost-sharing implemented by some insurers.
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Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.