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National Breast Cancer Coalition Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act Statement

June 1, 2018

The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) commends U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY2) and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL14) for introducing the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act. This important legislation is a top priority for NBCC and would provide individuals with metastatic breast cancer who already qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are therefore eligible for Medicare immediate access to support and medical care. Under current law, these individuals must wait five months for SSDI and 24 months for Medicare benefits to take effect.  This bill would waive both waiting periods.

“Since 1991, the National Breast Cancer Coalition has focused on ensuring that all individuals at risk for or with breast cancer have access to quality health care,” said Fran Visco, President. “Waiving these waiting periods helps assure that women and men living with metastatic breast cancer have access to the support and medical care they deserve.”

Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the breast to the bones, lungs or other distant parts of the body. While there are some treatments, there is no cure. The average life expectancy of an individual with metastatic breast cancer is 3 years.

“Too many women (40,920) and men (480) lose their lives to breast cancer every year and 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are as a result of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). While we must do more to encourage new treatments and cures, increase access to medical care, reduce health disparities and raise awareness for patients with MBC, eliminating onerous waiting periods for Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare is a meaningful step for women and their families. The average life expectancy for women diagnosed with MBC is only three years, so we must eliminate barriers that could delay critical treatment.  I am proud to join with my colleague from New York, U.S. Rep. Peter King, to remove these barriers for individuals with MBC and help bring financial security to their families,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14).

NBCC fully supports this legislation and is committed to ensuring that individuals like Ellen Kay Duffy, a 47-year-old nurse from Cedar Falls, Iowa who died waiting for her Medicare benefits to begin, do not have to wait 24 months to have access to quality health care that they are already qualified to receive.

NBCC encourages Congress to enact this critical legislation to help individuals like Ellen Kay Duffy and thousands like her get access to the care they need.