There’s been a lot of news lately. So much news that if you haven’t been following every headline, every day of the week, you might have missed something.
But that’s why I’m here. As the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy here at Susan G. Komen, I’ve been working on state and federal policy at Komen for more than a decade now. But my passion for advocating for those impacted by breast cancer has been with me for much longer.
Here’s some important news that you might have missed:
Congress has already passed three bills responding to and providing relief from COVID-19, and it is debating the next one right now.
Susan G. Komen has asked Congress to include chemotherapy parity – a longstanding priority for cancer patients – in the next bill.
Oral parity would require the price of the chemotherapy you use to cost the same, regardless of if it’s a pill you take at home or through an IV at a health care facility. Due to outdated insurance design, oral therapies are more expensive because they are handled as a prescription.
But there are many benefits to taking chemotherapy by pill: for breast cancer patients who live in rural areas or far from a health care facility, they wouldn’t have to drive long distances for their chemotherapy treatment; for patients with compromised immune systems, they wouldn’t have to go in-person for their treatment and risk exposure to germs or viruses.
COVID-19 has made oral chemotherapy even more important as patients are encouraged to stay home. That’s why we’re asking Congress to take action on chemotherapy parity amid the COVID-19 crisis so that more patients can afford to take their treatment at home, while protecting themselves from potential exposure the virus.
Along the same lines of being able to access care at home, we were thrilled to see the recent expansion of telehealth services, including for those with breast cancer.
Telehealth has historically been limited to certain conditions and for certain types of appointments. The federal government largely lifted those restrictions after the public health emergency was declared due to COVID-19.
These changes have meant that some visits with your doctor can be done through a video conference using a phone or computer. This is a significant improvement for those in active cancer treatment who have compromised immune systems and could be putting themselves at risk during in-person appointments.
And earlier this month, more changes were made to allow audio-only telehealth appointments. This is also very important because many people do not have access to devices with a video feature.
While we applaud these changes, focus is beginning to shift to how this will affect cancer care and the healthcare system long-term.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that you share your voice and insist it be heard. Lawmakers must hear what is important to those impacted by breast cancer.
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