ASPS Applauds Introduction of Legislation to Empower Women with Breast Cancer to Better Understand Their Care Choices
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) today announced its strong support of H.R. 5937, the "Breast Cancer Patient Education Act." This bi-partisan legislation was introduced June 8, 2012 in the House of Representatives by Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Donna Christensen, M.D. (D-VI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), James Moran (D-VA), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Michael Honda (D-CA).
Since 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses. However, only 33 percent of eligible women with breast cancer undergo breast reconstruction and published research shows that nearly 70 percent of women are not informed of their care options. In fact, recent studies by ASPS Member Surgeon Amy Alderman, MD, determined that the two dominant reasons why women did not undergo breast reconstruction were that they were not informed of options and they were not referred to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.
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. The Secretary may develop information for distribution or may have other entities do so. The educational materials would 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 would inform breast cancer patients that federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction, even if such reconstruction is delayed until after other treatments.
"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 ASPS President Malcolm Z. Roth, MD. "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."
Several states have enacted laws to require that women receive information about their breast cancer treatment and reconstructive options. The "Breast Cancer Patient Education Act" seeks to inform and empower women to make health care decisions that best meet their personal needs.
"Speaking on behalf of the ASPS membership and our patients, we thank the sponsors of this bipartisan, common sense legislation and appreciate their support," said Dr. Roth. "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."
In support of more education and ensuring all breast cancer patients are fully informed of their surgical options, the ASPS and The Plastic Surgery Foundation are launching the first annual National Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day, to take place on October 17, 2012. Renowned singer-songwriter, philanthropist and breast cancer advocate Jewel will serve as the national spokesperson and will be advocating on behalf of National BRA Day. She has written a song to recognize breast reconstruction patients and will perform a charitable concert on October 29, 2012, in New Orleans during Plastic Surgery The Meeting, ASPS' annual scientific meeting. Visit http://www.bradayusa.org/for more information on National BRA Day.
About 226,870 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 7,000 physician members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 93 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.