A Note from NBCC President, Fran Visco
I have been working from home for the past few weeks, keeping up with breast cancer issues, collaborating with our staff and Board to keep NBCC programs going, following the pandemic and its effect on breast cancer, and trying to figure out what NBCC should do to help.
Twenty-nine years ago, about three years after my breast cancer diagnosis, I met a group of women from across the country who came together to launch the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Over the years, more and more women and men became part of this movement.
For some reason this morning, it hit me that this network of individuals across the country, some of whom have been working together at a distance for 30 years, and others for just 30 days, have become a family. I sound corny, I know. Those who know me know that I never do corny. But, damn it, it is true. So many have reached out to make certain that other advocates are well. So many are concerned about what is happening with individuals who are in treatment. How are advocates’ families? What can NBCC do? How can Rose from Missouri, Dale from Texas, Michele from California, Chris from Iowa, Ivis from New York, and Marylinn from Virginia, etc. etc., help?
By coming together, these individuals, from all parts of society, have made such incredible progress in our mission. That sense of comradery, that knowledge, that cooperation, and our collaboration is what moves us all forward, and it serves us well today.
I have always been honored to work with the advocates who make up NBCC. In this difficult, unprecedented time, when we will only get through this by helping one another, I applaud and appreciate them even more. You are the best. And, I am grateful I can continue to be a part of this movement.
Public Policy and COVID-19
Access to Healthcare During the Pandemic:
On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, marking it the third and largest major legislative initiative to address COVID-19 to date. (The first was the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, signed into law on March 6, followed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18.) The CARES Act contains several health-related provisions focused on the outbreak in the United States, including paid sick leave, insurance coverage of coronavirus testing, nutrition assistance, and other programs and efforts. It also includes support for the global response. NBCC is following the legislative response and how it impacts breast cancer patients. We will continue to provide ongoing updates.
Beyond the CARES Act
On April 7, NBCC and its Board organizations sent a letter to the White House, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Congress asking our policymakers to take the following actions during this current public health emergency: open enrollment in Healthcare.gov, provide financial assistance to workers who are laid off, furloughed or have reduced hours so that they can maintain their job-based coverage through COBRA, and provide incentives for states to expand Medicaid by increasing the federal share of the cost.
On April 14, Representatives Dingell (D-MI), Horsford (D-NY), and Scott (D-VA) introduced The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act. The bill would require the government to cover the full cost of COBRA premiums for up to 15 months for workers who receive coverage through their job but have been laid off or are subject to reduced hours. NBCC sent a letter to the lead sponsors in support of this bill.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act: Take Action!
As Congress considers health care relief packages, NBCC asks you to urge your members of Congress to include a particularly vulnerable population whose unmet medical needs are critical and immediate: individuals with metastatic breast cancer who qualify for medical disability benefits but face onerous waiting periods – up to 2 years for Medicare. H.R. 2178 /S. 1374 would remove these burdensome waiting periods. NBCC has updated talking points dealing with this and other NBCC priorities.
More NBCC Policy News
Virtual Lobby Day
NBCC’s lobby day is going virtual. Lobby day will take place at the conclusion of the virtual Advocate Leadership Summit. We are targeting the third week of June and will notify you as that date firms up. If you or someone you know would like to register for lobby day free of charge, please register here.
Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations
NBCC filed testimony this week with the House and Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittees supporting an appropriation of $150 Million for the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program (DODBCRP). You can find the House and Senate testimony here.
Take the New NBCC Breast Cancer and Coronavirus Survey
The issues surrounding breast cancer and the pandemic are rapidly evolving. We want to assess the ongoing needs of the breast cancer community and determine what public policies we should be focusing on to make certain those needs are met. We have expanded upon the initial survey we published in late March. NBCC will now be running an ongoing survey to learn more about healthcare policy and access concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and its effect on women and men with breast cancer. Even if you responded to the previous NBCC survey, we ask that you take this expanded survey to help us assess how circumstances have changed over time.
Please click here to answer this quick survey. We will publish the results and analyze them to determine what policy steps NBCC can take moving forward.
Become a Member
Join the tens of thousands like you who want an end to breast cancer. For just $35 a year, you can become an NBCC member and receive exclusive benefits. For more information about being a member, visit the become a member page.