National Breast Cancer Coalition

For Immediate Release:

NBCC Advocate Vernal Branch Testifies Before Democratic Steering and Policy Committee

Says repeal of the Affordable Care Act would adversely impact women with breast cancer

Washington, D.C., January 20, 2011 – National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocate Vernal Branch testified before members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee today. Branch explained how a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would adversely impact the lives of people like her, a 15-year breast cancer survivor from Richmond, Va.

In her testimony, Branch detailed her experience being denied insurance coverage because of her breast cancer. She went on to tell the Committee what it was like to live in fear that her breast cancer had returned when a mammogram found a suspicious mass during the three years she was uninsured. "I wish I could explain to you what it is like to live every day with the knowledge that your breast cancer could come back," Branch told Committee members. "And to couple that fear with the reality of being uninsured is devastating."

In an explanation of what the patient protections in the new law mean to her, Branch said, "For me, this law represents protection from the uncertainty and fear that came with being denied health insurance coverage because of my past disease. It represents freedom for my husband and me to make important choices about our lives and careers without the specter of a preexisting condition hanging over our heads."

She closed her testimony by expressing her relief that due to the new law no other woman with breast cancer would be denied health insurance due to their breast cancer as she was and urging against repeal. "Removing these protections," she said, "would bring a halt to this progress, and mean a huge step backwards for us all." Branch's testimony is available on video at at the 30:13 mark of the broadcast.

Access to Quality Health Care for All a Legislative Priority for NBCC
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) has made access to quality health care for all a top legislative priority for more than a decade.

"For women with breast cancer, the Affordable Care Act makes available access to potentially life-saving treatment, protection of coverage in case of job loss, and coverage eligibility despite pre-existing conditions. We can’t afford to allow this incredible progress toward NBCC’s #1 priority—access to quality health care for all—to be repealed," said Fran Visco, President of National Breast Cancer Coalition.

The Coalition supported passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which marks an unprecedented step forward and reflects many of the principles and priorities NBCC adopted in our Framework.

NBCC is pleased by a number of provisions in the legislation, including those that may:

• Expand access to meaningful, quality and affordable coverage provisions,
• Tackle health care system costs,
• Emphasize quality improvement in care delivery,
• Provide for research in the comparative effectiveness of treatments and
• Ensure that consumers and patients have a significant role in health care decision making at several junctures in the health care system.

We believe these core elements are vitally important not only to women and men with and at risk for breast cancer, but to everyone.

We know that the work to truly reform and transform our health care system is just beginning. The new health care reform law, while important, did not address many areas of concern. We will continue to work to fulfill the original vision of our Framework, the goal of which was to achieve a well thought out and well designed health care system available to everyone.

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About the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC)
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) is dedicated to ending breast cancer by 2020 through the power of grassroots action and advocacy. NBCC increases funding for breast cancer research; monitors how those funds are spent; expands access to quality health care for all; and ensures that trained advocates influence all decision making that impacts breast cancer. Join NBCC, learn more and take action – visit

About Vernal Branch, National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocate
From Richmond, Virginia, Vernal Branch is a 15-year breast cancer survivor who has struggled to find health insurance, been denied by health insurance companies, and gone without coverage altogether at different times in her life. Branch is thankful that the new and strong patients’ rights ensure that she and other breast cancer survivors will never have to worry about being rejected by health insurance companies again, beginning in 2014. Branch is currently an advocate for the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC).

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