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Susan G. Komen® Calls on Congress to Remove Cost Barriers to Health Care; Ensure Treatment Parity

Komen CEO Paula Schneider & Celebrity Home Life Expert Sandra Lee Join 250 Breast Cancer Survivors, Patients and Advocates to Call for Critical Funding and Needed Reforms

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, mobilized more than 250 breast cancer survivors, patients and advocates to Capitol Hill today to urge Congress to support a variety of issues important to women and men impacted by breast cancer, including new legislation introduced yesterday to address the high and varying costs of breast cancer diagnostic exams.  The group was led by Paula Schneider, Susan G. Komen’s CEO, and celebrity home life expert Sandra Lee, both of whom are breast cancer survivors.   

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. For many people, undergoing a series of diagnostic exams is required, and for those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, diagnostic tests are often recommended annually rather than traditional screening.

“Women across the country are delaying, or even foregoing, needed diagnostic exams due to the high and varying out-of-pocket costs,” said Schneider.  “It does women little good to know they have something suspicious if they can’t afford the test(s) that will explain the finding or confirm the need for a biopsy.”

“Solving this barrier to care is key to saving lives,” added Lee.  “No woman should be put in the position of knowing something is wrong, but unable to do anything about it because of the cost.  We can, and must, do better for the women of this country.”

The bipartisan “Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act,” introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), would increase access to medically-necessary diagnostic breast imaging by reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Colin Allred (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Peter King (R-NY), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

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. 

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, as well as expanding 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.