Rogers-Lowell Area News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
6/10/2019 Member News
Northwest Arkansas Breast Cancer Patients, Survivors and Advocates Call on Congress to Remove Cost Barriers for Health Care

Local breast cancer patients, survivors and advocates representing Susan G. Komen® Ozark traveled to the nation’s capital in May, joining breast cancer activists from across the country to highlight an often-overlooked problem that can have tragic consequences – the high and varying costs of cancer diagnostic exams. The local advocates encouraged Members of Congress to support new legislation introduced this week that seeks to address a barrier to this potentially lifesaving care.

Susan G. Komen Ozark was invited to speak on a panel to discuss the legislative successes in Arkansas along with Senator Greg Leding. Arkansas was the first state to pass legislation prohibiting step therapy protocols for stage four, metastatic advanced breast cancer and the forty-third state to pass oral chemotherapy parity.

During Komen’s Success on the Hill Reception, Lauren Marquette was named the 2019 Susan G. Komen Advocacy Champion. Lauren has been a tireless advocate for the women of Arkansas and her advocacy work will ensure that breast cancer patients receive the treatments they need to fight their disease.

While on Capitol Hill for the day, the Komen Ozark delegation met with Congressman Steve Womack, French Hill, Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman and joined other delegations from across Arkansas to meet with Senator John Boozman and Senator Tom Cotton.

Millions of women across the country have access to free screening mammography after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, follow-up exams for those women with suspicious findings on their mammograms (which can be 10% of all women screened), may result in thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

“Women across Arkansas are delaying, or even foregoing, needed diagnostic exams due to the high and varying out-of-pocket costs,” said Lauren Marquette, Executive Director. “It does women little good to know they have something suspicious if they can’t afford the test(s) that will explain the finding or confirm the need for a biopsy.”

The “Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act” increases access to medically-necessary diagnostic breast imaging by reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients. From an early detection perspective, a screening mammogram would not be considered successful if the follow-up diagnostic imaging were not preformed to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. The systematic use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics has led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 20 years.

In addition to the new legislation, Komen advocates stressed the importance of ensuring parity between insurance coverage of oral chemotherapy, which often is governed by prescription drug benefit rules, and traditional IV treatments. Komen advocates also called for maintaining the government’s commitment to funding breast cancer research and vital safety-net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.