DALLAS BREAST CANCER PATIENTS, SURVIVORS AND ADVOCATES CALL ON CONGRESS TO REMOVE COST BARRIERS FOR HEALTH CARE; ENSURE TREATMENT PARITY
Susan G. Komen® Dallas County Advocates Stress Costs Can Cause Delay in Life-Saving Care
DALLAS, TEXAS. (MAY 9, 2019) – Local breast cancer survivors and advocates representing Susan G. Komen® Dallas County, traveled to the nation’s capital May 2, joining breast cancer activists from across the country to highlight an often-overlooked problem that can have tragic consequences – the high and varying costs of cancer diagnostic exams. The local advocates encouraged Members of Congress to support new legislation introduced this week that seeks to address a barrier to this potentially lifesaving care.
Millions of women across the country have access to free screening mammography after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, follow-up exams for those women with suspicious findings on their mammograms (which can be 10% of all women screened), may result in thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.
“Women across DFW are delaying, or even foregoing, needed diagnostic exams due to the high and varying out-of-pocket costs,” said Natasha Mmeje, Director of Mission Impact and Outreach. “It does women little good to know they have a lump or something suspicious if they can’t afford the tests that will explain the finding or confirm the need for a biopsy.”
The “Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act” increases access to medically-necessary diagnostic breast imaging by reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients. From an early detection perspective, a screening mammogram would not be considered successful if the follow-up diagnostic imaging were not preformed to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. The systematic use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics has led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 20 years.
While on Capitol Hill for the day, the Komen Dallas County delegation met with U.S Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Kay Granger, Ron Wright, Colin Allred, and Kenny Marchant and joined other delegations from across Texas to meet with Senator John Cornyn.
In addition to the new legislation, Komen advocates stressed the importance of ensuring parity between insurance coverage of oral chemotherapy, which often is governed by prescription drug benefit rules, and traditional IV treatments.
“Many new cancer drugs are out of reach for patients because of outdated insurance design,” said Mmeje. “Treatment decisions should be made by patients and their doctor based on what is the best medical option – not by which treatment protocol is less likely to bankrupt them based on insurance rules that haven’t kept pace with science.”
Komen advocates also called for maintaining the government’s commitment to funding breast cancer research and vital safety-net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
“As the health care system continues to evolve, we cannot forget that many people continue to rely on vital safety net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program,” said Nicole Metcalf, Executive Director. “We cannot step back from our commitment to ensuring access to quality breast cancer screening and treatment.”
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About Susan G. Komen® Dallas County
Komen Dallas County is committed to Dallas’ fight against breast cancer. Since its inception, Komen Dallas County has invested over $27.5 million in local breast health programs providing education, screening, diagnostic services, treatment, patient navigation and transportation services. Komen Dallas County has also invested nearly $8.5 million in national, cutting edge research to find the cures so that future generations will not have to face this devastating disease.