Walorski, Chu, Duckworth, Murkowski Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Expand Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Walorski, Chu, Duckworth, Murkowski Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Expand Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act Would Provide Coverage for Custom Fabricated Breast Prostheses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), along with U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), today reintroduced legislation to ensure breast cancer patients and survivors who have experienced a mastectomy are able to access custom breast prosthetics under Medicare. The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act would provide coverage for custom fabricated breast prostheses, the only human body part not currently covered by Medicare, to the more than 144,000 women who undergo mastectomies annually.

“Breast cancer patients and survivors should have access to the latest in custom breast prostheses to help improve their quality of life,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I am honored to work across the aisle to expand women’s access to life-changing health care and innovative technology under Medicare. As we continue working toward a cure, this bipartisan bill will ensure Medicare beneficiaries battling breast cancer have the option to choose the prosthetics that work best for them.”

“Women who have undergone a mastectomy deserve to have every reconstructive option,” Congresswoman Chu said. “Yet, currently, Medicare only covers two: the most basic – off-the-counter inserts – and the most comprehensive – reconstruction. This bill would correct that by requiring Medicaid to cover a third option: custom inserts. This is important for women who want breasts that are the appropriate size and skin color but choose not to undergo reconstructive surgery. Medicare should not be limiting reasonable options for necessary surgeries that allow women to live normal lives after cancer. I’m proud to have worked on this bipartisan bill and I hope we can bring this action to a vote quickly so we can help more women return to feeling like themselves on their own terms.”

“We can do so much more to help survivors of breast cancer return to health and achieve the best quality of life,” Senator Duckworth said. “This legislation is an important step in continuing to expand healthcare coverage for women, and I’ll keep working to ensure survivors and all women have access to the healthcare they need.”

“A breast cancer diagnosis changes your life forever. So for those who have championed what is, perhaps, the greatest battle of their life, it is only right that we expand coverage to help them physically and emotionally recover,” Senator Murkowski said. “I am proud to cosponsor this bill to support and empower survivors.”

BACKGROUND

Over 3.1 million women in the United States have a history of breast cancer, many of whom suffer from unreconstructed breast loss. In 2018, more than 260,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, which can require surgical breast removal. Currently, Medicare covers reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients, but not custom breast prosthetics for patients.

The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act is currently endorsed by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Susan B. Komen, Young Survival Coalition, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, Brem Foundation, and Living Beyond Cancer.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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