Urges Senate Action, Quick Passage to Provide Immediate Help to Thousands
WASHINGTON, DC – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds House lawmakers for their leadership on bipartisan legislation that would make financial benefits and health insurance immediately available to people living with metastatic breast cancer. In the 117th Congress, this bill was supported by more than 50 percent of members of the House of Representatives.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act (H.R.549) waives a five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance and a subsequent 24-month waiting period for Medicare benefits. People diagnosed with MBC, on average, don’t live long enough to receive both benefits, yet most face thousands of dollars in medical expenses every month without the means to pay their bills.
“Many living with metastatic breast cancer do not have the luxury of waiting for the health care services and financial support they need. Those receiving this devastating diagnosis face enough challenges without the added burden of long and arduous waiting periods, which create barriers to the care patients so desperately need, and need now,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy at Susan G. Komen.
An estimated 168,000 Americans live with MBC, breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body – often the brain, bones, lungs and liver. Treatments exist for MBC but there is no cure for it. The average life expectancy is three years after diagnosis and MBC is responsible for the majority of the breast cancer deaths each year.
“In New York, over 16,800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and about 2,500 women die from the disease annually. Long Island has among the highest occurrences of breast cancer in the country. These numbers and the real people they represent make this issue deeply personal for me and for my constituents. Roughly 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are a result of metastatic disease and the life expectancy of an individual with metastatic breast cancer is anywhere between 4 and 36 months. Given this timeframe, it is outrageous to double the suffering of those living with this horrible disease by making them wait to gain access to health benefits that they are immediately eligible for. This bill waives these onerous waiting periods, relieving the potential financial burden on those with the disease, and allowing them to focus on fighting the cancer,” said Rep. Andrew R. Garbarino (R-NY-02), bill sponsor.
Added Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), original co-sponsor of the bill, “The statistics are startling. In 2022, it is estimated that 43,780 people died from breast cancer in the United States – 90 percent as a result of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). To save lives and improve breast cancer outcomes, we must invest in treatments and cures and increase access to affordable, quality care for individuals with MBC. Immediately connecting recently-diagnosed individuals with access to treatment can improve outcomes, and our bipartisan bill would eliminate barriers and reduce current health disparities in care. People diagnosed with MBC should not have to worry about long waiting periods for eligibility to care and I look forward to working with my colleague, Rep. Andrew Garbarino, to deliver financial security and critical care to families.”
Passage of the MBC Access to Care Act is a top legislative priority for Susan G. Komen this year. “Komen applauds Reps. Garbarino and Castor for their leadership in reintroducing the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act on behalf of those living with MBC,” Guthrie added. “We look forward to building off of previous support for this legislation and passing the bill as soon as possible to provide much-needed help to those who are living with the disease now and will be diagnosed in the future.”