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Bill calls for breast reconstruction education

Article-Bill calls for breast reconstruction education

Washington — A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients about their options related to breast reconstruction.

Legislators last week introduced the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, H.R. 5937, which calls on HHS to plan and carry out the campaign to allow breast cancer patients to understand the options available to them, including availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses and other options, GlobeNewswire reports.

The educational materials would inform women that breast reconstruction is possible at the time of breast cancer surgery, that it may be delayed until after other treatments, or that they may choose not to have reconstruction and instead be informed of the availability of prostheses or breast forms.

The educational materials also would inform breast cancer patients that federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction, even if such reconstruction is delayed until after other treatments.

Since 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses. But only 33 percent of eligible women with breast cancer undergo breast reconstruction — and published research shows that nearly 70 percent of women are not informed of their care options.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons quickly announced its support of the bill. GlobeNewswire quotes ASPS President Malcolm Z. Roth, M.D., as saying, “The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will get the best information in the hands of women and their families to empower them in making the best choice for their care. Federal law has long required coverage for reconstruction and prostheses, and no woman should be denied the right to choose the care they need just because they were not aware of their choices.”

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