Breast cancer advocates call on Congress to maintain commitment to research

Susan G. Komen Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Executive Director Catherine Young (left) is shown with Rep. Grep Harper and Christy Moore, Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias board treasurer.

Mississippi Link Newswire

Susan G. Komen Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Executive Director Catherine Young (left) is shown with Rep. Grep Harper and Christy Moore, Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias board treasurer.

Local breast cancer survivors and advocates representing Susan G. Komen Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate traveled to the nation’s capital April 14, joining more than 100 breast cancer advocates from across the country to remind the nation’s leaders of the importance of federal cancer research funding and access to cancer screening programs — and to call on policy makers to ensure parity of insurance coverage between oral chemotherapy and traditional IV treatments.

“As the health care system continues to evolve, we cannot forget that many people continue to rely on vital safety net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program,” said Catherine Young, executive director. “We cannot step back from our commitment to ensuring access to quality breast cancer screening and treatment.”

While on Capitol Hill for the day, the Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias Affiliate delegation met with Rep. Greg Harper, Rep. Trent Kelly, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Steven Pallazo and joined other delegations from across Mississippi to meet with Sen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker.

They urged lawmakers to invest in biomedical research by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health to $34.5 billion, including $5.9 billion for the National Cancer Institute, in FY2017.

In addition to research, the Komen representatives stressed the importance of maintaining the government’s commitment to vital safety-net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.  They also stressed the importance of ensuring parity between the way insurance covers oral chemotherapy, which often is governed by prescription drug benefit rules, and traditional IV treatments, which often have lower co-pays.

“Many new cancer drugs are out of reach for patients because of outdated insurance rules that class them as specialty drugs under their prescription drug benefits, requiring significant out-of-pocket costs for patients. Conversely, IV treatments fall under the patient’s medical benefits since they are administered at the hospital, and involve lower cost-sharing,” said Christy Moore, Central Mississippi Steel Magnolias board treasurer.  “Treatment decisions should be made by patients and their doctor based on what is the best medical option – not by which treatment protocol is less likely to bankrupt them based on insurance rules that haven’t kept pace with science.”

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