Essentially Women Launches Make Me Whole Again Campaign

The public awareness campaign pushes Medicare to fund custom breast prostheses.

Just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, VGM’s women’s health service organization Essentially Women is launching Make Me Whole Again, a new public awareness and advocacy campaign for mastectomy patients. The campaign is working to drive legislation that will ensure that Medicare funds custom breast prostheses.

 A large population of women have or will undergo mastectomy resulting from breast cancer in 2018: The American Cancer Society estimates that 252,710 new cases of breast cancer and 63,410 cases of in situ breast carcinoma will be diagnosed. Unfortunately, Medicare only covers off-the-shelf protheses, which means that many women are left with protheses that aren’t right for them.

Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women, explained: “For some women, the contour of their chest wall may not allow for a good fit with a flat back, off-the-shelf prostheses. If you’re a woman who has a concave area and you’re trying to fit a flat-backed mastectomy prosthesis in a mastectomy bra, the women that we talked to would explain to us that it moves when they move. So when they walk into a room they’re very self-conscience.”

Prosthesis color is another problem. “If they had one breast removed and they’re trying to match the profile of their existing breast, an off the shelf prostheses may simply just not be available to match their remaining breast,” said Jensen.

With custom breast prostheses, women would be able to fit their prostheses to their chest wall and would have dozens of skin tones to choose from.

The Make Me Whole Again Campaign helps women find the option in prostheses that works best for them right on the landing page of the campaign’s website. “Whether that’s reconstruction, off the shelf prostheses or custom breast prostheses, we think they should choose what best meets their needs.”

The website will also soon include information regarding legislation that Essentially Women and VGM Government Relations are working to introduce into Congress that would require Medicare to reimburse for custom prostheses. This week, representatives from both organizations traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk to lawmakers about the issue, and according to Tom Powers, director of VGM Government Relations, legislative language for the House and Senate has already been drafted by Red. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

“Now with both the House and Senate are back in, at least for a short period, it’s our hope that both sides would drop the bill relatively soon,” Powers said.

While Essentially Women and VGM work on the legislative side of things, Jensen says that providers and patients can already get involved in the campaign by filling out the contact form on the website and letting them know what they are interested in. “And as we have the bill introduced and new information, we can them information for them to go back to the site and take action to send emails and messaging directly to their members of Congress.”

To get involved in the Make Me Whole Again Campaign, visit https://bit.ly/2x81j7p.

About the Authors

Leila McNeill is the Associate Editor of HME Business and Mobility Management magazines. She can be reached at LMcNeill@1105media.com.

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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