Web Log – December 2015 – Breast Cancer Patient Education Act Signed Into Law

Patients whom I see for Breast Cancer Reconstruction are sometimes disappointed to find out certain surgical options are not available to them because they were unaware of their existence when crucial treatment choices were being made at the time of their diagnosis.  Better education would have helped them and now that help is on the horizon for those diagnosed in the future.  The following is excepted from the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s web site for publication:

One of ASPS’s top legislative priorities, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, was passed by Congress on December 18, 2015 through the FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill and was signed into law by President Obama on December 21. ASPS was instrumental in organizing and leading the stakeholder effort to advance this bipartisan policy, first introduced in 2012, and worked closely with its champions in Congress to shepherd it through the legislative process. ASPS facilitated hundred of meetings with members of Congress, created the BCPEA Coalition consisting of medical specialty societies and patient advocacy organizations and engaged our members to write to Congress about the need for breast reconstruction awareness.

Since passage of the Women’s Health Care and Cancer Rights Act in 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses. However, less than half of all women requiring a mastectomy are currently offered breast reconstruction surgery and fewer than one in five elect to undergo the procedure. While there is little consensus as to why women do not choose to undergo the procedure following their mastectomy, a recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that almost one-fifth of women who do not undergo breast reconstruction reported a lack of knowledge regarding the procedure.

The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act addresses this problem by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses and other options. The educational materials would inform women that breast reconstruction is possible at the time of breast cancer surgery, that it may be delayed until after other treatments, or that they may choose not to have reconstruction and instead opt for prostheses or breast forms.

Mark D. Wigod, MD, FACS, providing Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery to Boise, Meridian, Treasure Valley and Southeastern Idaho.

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