Support Custom Breast Prosthesis Legislation by Joining the Let Her Decide Movement

Home Blog Support Custom Breast Prosthesis Legislation by Joining the Let Her Decide Movement

Essentially Women has been working for the past year to have custom breast prosthesis covered by Medicare. Custom Breast Prosthesis legislation is about making sure women have ALL of the choices available to them, whether it be reconstruction, off the shelf breast prosthesis, custom breast prosthesis or to go flat.

A little history on the Breast Cancer Patient Equality Act

The Breast Cancer Patient Equality Act was originally introduced in 2011, during the 112th Congress by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR).  We’re not sure why the bill did not pass during this Congress, but neither Senator Snowe or Congressman Ross returned to Congress so the bill was not reintroduced. 

In July 2018, EW and VGM Government Relations staff met with two CMS ombudsmen to request that there be a regulatory fix based on the interpretation of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. We quickly found out that CMS does not see medical necessity of custom breast prosthesis, so to fix this issue, it requires legislative action.

After countless visits and phone calls with legislators, H.R. 6980 was introduced by Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). This was a reintroduction of the prior bill with updated “findings,” which are the statistics and reasons to support legislative action. The action of the bill remained the same.

EW launched our grassroots advocacy campaign, Make Me Whole Again shortly after the House bill was introduced. This campaign used social media and EW member engagement to generate emails, phone calls and visits to legislative offices in support of our legislation. Advocacy toolkits were emailed to all EW members to encourage local participation. EW members generated more than 600 emails to members of Congress within 6 weeks! Bills are not passed without grassroots advocacy. Congress must hear from constituents for action to be taken!

In September 2018, the Senate version of the bill, S. 3687, was introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Since the legislation had to be reintroduced in the 116th session and many of the representatives were up for re-election, we did not push for signors on the bill.

Time for Action

The beginning of 2019 has been busy already. I spent the first week of the year with Tom Powers, a key part of our Government Relations team, in Washington, D.C. drumming up support for the reintroduction of our legislation. Even though the government was shut down, we had very productive and hopeful meetings. We left D.C. with bipartisan support of our proposed legislation and confidence that we could get our legislation dropped early in the year.

After reworking the findings of the bills for broader support by key interest groups, the Breast Cancer Patient Equality Act bill was introduced by the Senate and House of Representatives on February 26, 2019. The bipartisan bills S. 562 and H.R. 1370 were co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), along with Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

Having the bills introduced is just one step in the process. Now, we need you to help drum up grassroots advocacy support from your clients and communities. Essentially Women is launching our new campaign, Let Her Decide, to advocate for the Breast Care Patient Equality Act. Toolkits are available to download at www.essentiallywomen.com/AdvocacyResources.

Our Government Relations team says that it takes about 10 years for a bill to be passed. We are very hopeful that this year will be the year. The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act has strong bipartisan support. This bill could be the one that legislators hang their hat on.

For more information about the Let Her Decide campaign and to take action, go to letherdecide.org. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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