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Chu, Duckworth, Murkowski & Walorski Re-Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Expand Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

February 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC — U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA-27) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2), along with U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today re-introduced 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.

“Women who have undergone a mastectomy deserve to have every reconstructive option,” 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 Medicare to cover a third option: custom inserts. This is important for women who want breast prosthetics that are the appropriate size and skin color but choose not to undergo reconstructive surgery. Medicare should not be limiting reasonable options 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.”

“Breast cancer patients and survivors should have access to the latest in custom breast prostheses to help improve their quality of life,” 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.”

“We can do so much more to help survivors of breast cancer return to health and achieve the best quality of life,” 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,” Murkowski said. “I am proud to cosponsor this bill to support and empower survivors.”

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. Duckworth originally introduced the Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act to the 115th Congress last November.

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