Over 4 million women in the United States have a history of breast cancer and in 2023, an estimated 297,790 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, a cancer that could require surgical breast removal. Yet, despite the staggering number of women impacted by this disease, we still do not have legislation in place that adequately supports these women and their families.
Currently, if a breast cancer survivor undergoes a mastectomy, a procedure to remove all breast tissue, they are given two options after the procedure either: a basic off-the-shelf breast prostheses insert or complete reconstruction.
These choices are built into insurance coverage with little wiggle room and higher quality custom inserts are simply not covered for breast cancer patients and survivors under Medicare.
When women are dealing with the stress and toll of invasive breast cancer, line items of their insurance coverage are the furthest things from their minds.
Therefore, after examining these gaps in quality coverage, I introduced the Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act, with Representative Judy Chu. This legislation requires Medicare to cover a third option of breast reconstruction surgery: custom inserts.
Custom inserts are meant for women who want breast prosthetics that are the appropriate size and skin color but choose not to undergo a complete reconstructive surgery.
The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act takes away the burden of calculating the coverage for custom prosthetics and gives access to higher quality inserts for patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer that undergo a mastectomy, regardless of their income.
In addition to quality inserts, there is also a gap in coverage for preventative testing available to Medicare patients.
To combat this discrepancy, I introduced the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act with Rep. Wasserman Schultz to increase coverage for critical testing. This legislation expands access to lifesaving genetic testing to determine an individual’s risk of developing hereditary cancer.
Under the current law, Medicare only covers genetic testing for people that are already diagnosed with cancer. This severely limits any coverage for preventative screening and testing.
As a doctor, I know that one of the best ways to treat and beat cancer is early detection. Our Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act would allow Medicare to cover genetic testing, cancer screenings and risk-reducing surgeries.
I will continue to introduce legislation to ensure that treatments and products are accessible to give patients access to the care they need to live better lives.