Ensuring access to quality health care is an urgent and longstanding priority for the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and an essential component of our mission to end breast cancer. NBCC’s grassroots Board of Directors approved a Framework for a Health Care System Guaranteeing Access to Quality Health Care for All and works to identify, advocate for, and support implementing laws such as the “Affordable Care Act,” marked critical steps toward access to quality health care. Also, NBCC remains committed to protecting vital existing programs such as the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP).
NBCC has succeeded in making targeted changes to expand access to healthcare. After years of NBCC grassroots lobbying and influence, Congress enacted the “Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act” (P.L. 106-354) in 2000. The Act authorized enhanced matching funds to states to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured or underinsured women and men diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through a federal screening program. Before this Act, women, and men could be denied treatment due to inability to pay, preexisting conditions, or because they exceeded their lifetime health insurance caps. The passage of this law expanded access to health care for thousands of underserved women and men. The Act is an opt-in program for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five
U.S. territories, and 12 American Indian/Alaska Native tribal organizations.
In 2010, NBCC endorsed and advocated for the passage of the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA). This landmark legislation marked critical steps forward in providing access to quality health care for individuals with and at risk of breast cancer. NBCC continues to support the implementation and expansion of the Act. The ACA provides breast cancer survivors and other vital protections from many of the health care system’s past practices, including eliminating lifetime insurance caps and restrictions for women and men with preexisting conditions. As a result of NBCC’s advocacy, the ACA requires consumer representation on any committees, boards, panels, or commissions formed under the law. Also, insurance companies must cover the routine patient care costs for clinical trial participation and cannot discriminate against an individual based on their involvement in a clinical trial. The law brings the country closer to comprehensive health care reform that will help the millions of individuals with and at risk of breast cancer.
In addition to safeguarding the Affordable Care Act, NBCC looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to enact a law(s) that would expand access to Medicare while also offering a private insurance option, automatically enrolling individuals who are not enrolled in other coverage and providing guaranteed benefits including:
• Primary and preventative care
• Hospital services, including emergency services
• Prescription drugs and medical devices
• Maternity, newborn, and reproductive care
• Mental health and substance abuse disorder services
• Habilitative and rehabilitative services
• Dental, vision, and hearing
Any initiative that NBCC supports would also establish a financing mechanism including shared financial responsibility, and where no one can be denied coverage due to an inability to pay.