Chu & Walorski Re-Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Published in Legislative Updates on May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Jackie Walorski (IN-2) today re-introduced legislation to ensure breast cancer patients and survivors who have experienced a mastectomy are able to access custom breast prosthetics under Medicare. The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act would provide coverage for custom fabricated breast prostheses, the only human body part not currently covered by Medicare, to the more than 144,000 women who undergo mastectomies annually.

“Breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy deserve to have a full range of affordable reconstructive options,” Rep. Chu said. “Currently, survivors must choose between two options: basic off-the-counter inserts or complete reconstruction. This bill would reduce the vast gulf between the current options by requiring Medicare to cover a third option: custom inserts. Custom inserts are meant for women who want breast prosthetics that are the appropriate size and skin color but choose not to undergo a complete reconstructive surgery, and this bill ensures feeling comfortable with yourself after surviving breast cancer is not just a privilege for the wealthy. There are many reasons a breast cancer patient may not elect for reconstructive surgery, and Medicare should not be limiting reasonable options that allow women to live normal lives after fighting cancer. I’m proud to have worked on this bipartisan bill, and I hope we can pass it quickly so cancer survivors can finally have complete freedom of choice.” 

“Breast cancer patients and survivors should have access to the best care and the latest technology to help improve their quality of life,” Rep. Walorski said. “However, while more than 144,000 women undergo mastectomies each year, Medicare does not provide coverage for custom breast prostheses. I’m grateful to work across the aisle with Congresswoman Chu to fix that. As we continue working toward a cure, this bipartisan bill would ensure women have access to innovating, life-changing technology.”

Over 3.1 million women in the United States have a history of breast cancer, many of whom suffer from unreconstructed breast loss. In 2018, more than 260,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, which can require surgical breast removal. Currently, Medicare covers reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients and over-the-counter inserts, but not custom breast prosthetics for patients.

The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act is currently endorsed by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Susan B. Komen, Young Survival Coalition, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, Brem Foundation and Living Beyond Cancer.

Take action now! Ask your representatives to cosponsor this legislation. More information about the Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act can be found in Essentially Women's Policy Guide.


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