• Wed, May 28 2008

Understanding the Breast Cancer Protection Act


You probably heard about the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, maybe even skimmed a recent news story about it. But maybe, like me, you didn’t quite understand what it was all about?

I mean, here’s what crowded my brain: Hasn’t this been around for a while? Haven’t they implemented this yet? Hasn’t it been years since this first hit the scene?

The answers? Yes. No. Yes. Let me explain:

The Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act was first introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT — pictured on right) in 1996, after she met with Dr. Kristen Zarfos, a Connecticut surgeon who found herself constantly battling with insurance companies to keep her breast cancer patients in the hospital following mastectomy surgery.

The Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act would:

  • Guarantee a minimum hospital stay of 48 hours for a woman having a mastectomy or lumpectomy, and 24 hours for a woman undergoing a lymph node removal;
  • Require health plans to include notice of these benefits in their monthly mailing and yearly information packet sent to plan participants;
  • Require plans to provide full coverage of second opinions should the patient seek one.

The bill does not mandate a 48 hour hospital stay; nor does it set 48 hours as a maximum amount of time a woman can stay in the hospital. It simply ensures that any decision in favor of a shorter or longer hospital stay will be made by the patient and her doctor. This bipartisan bill is modeled after the carefully crafted and widely-supported legislation that ended “drive-through” deliveries.

So this began twelve years ago and DeLauro has introduced the legislation in every meeting of Congress since that time. Congress meets every year. I think DeLauro gives tenacity a new name. Good for her.

Okay, up to the latest news: last week, there was an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing and they listened to testimony from DeLauro and others on the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act.

Alright, it made the news, but we need to realize, this was just another committee hearing. Right now, this is just a bill, this isn’t a law (yet). Remember School House Rock?

“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capital Hill.”

Congress has to debate this bill, the House of Representatives has to debate this bill, the Senate … the President. So we’ve got a ways to go with this one.

DeLauro is working her butt off to get this particular bill a step closer to the White House. What can we do to help her mission? Well …

More than 11 million Americans have signed a petition organized by Lifetime Television calling for passage of this legislation.

You can view (and sign) that petition here at myLifetime.com.

Or, better yet, do what I just did and contact your congressional representative and tell him or her you want to see this bill become a law!

(Source: Reuters)

(Image: Newscom)

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  • http://www.eskindeep.com deborah woods

    Thank you for such a great explanation.

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