New legislation would ensure women are informed of their breast reconstruction options
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By law, all women with breast cancer must be offered coverage for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. But the problem - as a recent survey discovered - is that many cancer patients are not being told of their reconstruction options.
To remedy this situation, a large bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives that would, if passed, ensure that all cancer patients receive adequate explanations of their post-mastectomy options.
ASPS backs bill (and many Reps, too)
H.R. 5937, also known as the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2012, has received strong support ever since its introduction on June 8. So far, numerous advocacy groups and professional organizations have broadcast their approval of the bill, including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
"Knowledge is power," ASPS President Malcolm Roth said of this bill. "Federal law has long required coverage for reconstruction and prostheses, and no woman should be denied the right to choose the care they need just because they were not aware of their choices."
As a bipartisan bill, the legislation seems to have a strong chance of passing. The full list of its House supporters includes Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Donna Christensen (D-VI), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), James Moran (D-VA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
Legislative steps, one at a time
The first federal law that addressed breast reconstructions was the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, which mandated coverage for reconstructions following mastectomies and lumpectomies.
While that was a seminal piece of legislation, not all subsequent bills on this issue have passed, even with bipartisan backing.
For instance, the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2005 has been tabled and re-introduced six times in both the House and Senate. If passed, would mandate that all mastectomy recipients be given at least 48 hours to recover in the hospital, and lumpectomy recipients 24 hours.
Yet the bill still languishes in Congress.
The ASPS and breast cancer advocates hope that the new bill will receive quicker and more decisive treatment.
ASPS Applauds Introduction of Legislation to Empower Women with Breast Cancer to Better Understand Their Care Choices. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. June 11, 2012. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/News-and-Resources/ASPS-Applauds-Introduction-of-Legislation-to-Empower-Women-with-Breast-Cancer-to-Better-Understand-Their-Care-Choices.html" rel="no_follow">http://www.plasticsurgery.org/News-and-Resources/ASPS-Applauds-Introduction-of-Legislation-to-Empower-Women-with-Breast-Cancer-to-Better-Understand-Their-Care-Choices.html Accessed June 22, 2012.
H.R. 5937: Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2012. GovTrack.us. June 8, 2012.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr5937/text%20Accessed%20June%2022,%202012." rel="no_follow">http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr5937/text Accessed June 22, 2012.
H.R. 1849 (109th): Breast Cancer Patient ProtectionAct of 2005. GovTrack.us. April 26, 2005. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr1849" rel="no_follow">http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr1849 Accessed June 22, 2012.
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