Legislation to Empower Women with Breast Cancer to Better Understand their Care Choices
For Release: 05/07/2014
Washington, D.C. — The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) today delivered a letter signed by 23 organizations in support of H.R. 1984/S. 931, the “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act.”
This bi-partisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Donna Christensen, M.D. (D-VI) and in the U.S. Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
The “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act” requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses and other options.
Educational materials should inform women that breast reconstruction is possible at the time of breast cancer surgery, it may be delayed until after other treatments, or they may choose not to have reconstruction and be informed of the availability of prostheses or breast forms. Also, educational materials should inform breast cancer patients that federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction, even if such reconstruction is delayed after other treatments.
Several states have enacted laws to require that women receive information on their breast cancer treatment and reconstruction options. The “Breast Reconstruction Education Act” seeks to inform and empower women to make health care decisions that best meet their personal needs.
“The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will get the best information in the hands of women and their families to empower them in making the best choice for their care,” said Dr. Robert X. Murphy, Jr., M.D., ASPS president. “Knowledge is power. 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.
“Speaking on behalf of the ASPS membership, we thank the sponsors of this bipartisan, common sense legislation and appreciate their support. As plastic surgeons, we recognize this disparity on a personal level with our patients and their families and agree the government can do more to ensure women have the tools available to make decisions about their health care.”
About 232,670 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2014 according to the American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States.
Breast cancer has a disproportionate and detrimental impact on African-American women. In fact, African-American women under the age of 40 have a greater incidence of breast cancer than Caucasian women of the same age. Also, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Hispanic/ Latina women.
Since 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required by federal law (P.L. 105-277) to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses. Even so, surprisingly, published studies report that women eligible for breast reconstruction following breast cancer many times are not informed of their care options, especially women of racial and ethnic minority groups.
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The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.