VASPS supported with signage on a coalition statement, and with face to face lobbying with congress by Dr. Vastine, President and Dr. Gross of Northern Virginia.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is pleased to announce the passage of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2015 through the FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Inclusion of the BCPEA within the spending bill was a recent decision by Senator Blunt and Congressman Lance, who recognized the omnibus as a vehicle to make the BCPEA a reality. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
ASPS extends a special thank you to all of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act Coalition members who advocated on behalf of this important measure and helped build momentum in Congress. The BCPEA Coalition received unprecedented support in 2015, up from 27 member organizations to 40 following the addition of numerous medical specialty organizations and national breast cancer advocacy groups. In addition, a greater number of state, regional and local plastic surgery societies joined the coalition and advocated on behalf of patients in their state. Through your commitment, this coalition was able to demonstrate the wide-spread support for breast reconstruction awareness nationwide, and that show of support was instrumental in advancing the BCPEA.
Thank you for all of your work and congratulations on a significant victory for the breast cancer community!
About the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act
According to the American Cancer Society, over 230,000 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in the United States in 2015. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires health plans that offer breast cancer coverage to also provide for breast reconstruction and prostheses. Yet less than half of all women requiring a mastectomy are currently offered breast reconstruction surgery. In fact, one in five women who do not undergo breast reconstruction reported a lack of knowledge about the procedure.
In response to these alarming statistics, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act was first introduced in 2012 by Congressman Leonard Lance and Senator Roy Blunt. In May 2015, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the bill, quickly followed by a reintroduction in the House by Representatives by Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07) and Kathy Castor (D-FL-14). While 34 members of Congress cosponsored the bill in the House and the Senate during the 113th Congress, the bill’s greatest bi-partisan support was achieved in 2015 with 46 Congressional cosponsors. This type of support was made possible through the continuous advocacy of ASPS, the BCPEA Coalition partners, and most importantly, all of our members.
The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients about the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and other available alternatives post-mastectomy. Educational materials created by the Secretary of Health and Human Services will inform women of their right to breast reconstruction under federal law and provide women with information about when breast reconstruction or prostheses may be appropriate within their recovery plan. This campaign will support existing collateral on breast cancer awareness that is already created by the Office of Women’s Health and the Office of Minority Health.