Custom Breast Prostheses Bills Introduced in House and Senate
Legislation re-introduced in the House and debuted in the Senate would require Medicare to fund custom breast prostheses, the only part of the body Medicare doesn’t cover.
- By David Kopf
- Mar 01, 2019
Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), and Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reintroduced legislation to ensure breast cancer patients who have experienced a mastectomy can access custom breast prosthetics under Medicare.
The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act would ensure coverage for custom post-mastectomy breast prostheses to the more than 144,000 women who undergo mastectomies annually. A public statement from Rep. Walorski emphasized that breasts were the only human body part not currently covered by Medicare.
The bills pick up where 2018’s Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act left off, since the previous legislation had lapsed with the 115th Congress.
The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act is 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.
“Breast cancer patients and survivors should have access to the latest in custom breast prostheses to help improve their quality of life,” Walorski said. “… As we continue working toward a cure, this bipartisan bill will ensure Medicare beneficiaries battling breast cancer have the option to choose the prosthetics that work best for them.”
Chu noted that Medicare only covers two options for women who have undergone a mastectomy: basic, over-the-counter inserts and reconstruction, the most comprehensive procedure.
“This is important for women who want breasts that are the appropriate size and skin color but choose not to undergo reconstructive surgery,” she said. “Medicare should not be limiting reasonable options for necessary surgeries that allow women to live normal lives after cancer.”
“We can do so much more to help survivors of breast cancer return to health and achieve the best quality of life,” Duckworth noted.
“A breast cancer diagnosis changes your life forever,” Senator Murkowski added. “ So for those who have championed what is, perhaps, the greatest battle of their life, it is only right that we expand coverage to help them physically and emotionally recover.”
David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.