October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
According to the American Cancer Society, excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. An estimated 40,480 women and 450 men died from breast cancer in 2008, and an estimated 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women, plus 1,990 cases in men.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s House Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind co-sponsored the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act that requires coverage and radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment, prohibits restricting benefits for any hospital length of stay in connection with a mastectomy or breast conserving surgery and prohibits requiring that a provider obtain authorization from the plan for prescribing any such length of stay.
Because research has consistently shown that early detection with screening mammography means that breast cancer treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread, Democrats also worked to ensure that the successful Affordable Care Act included significant protections for women to receive preventative services, and to receive fair health insurance coverage for breast cancer treatment if needed.
By contrast, the Paul Ryan-Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act would take us back to when:
- New insurance plans would no longer be required to cover preventative services, like mammograms, without cost-sharing.
- 871,000 seniors in Wisconsin who have Medicare would be forced to pay a co-pay for preventative services, such as mammograms.
- Insurance companies could deny coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions like breast cancer.
- Insurance companies can implement lifetime limits on how much they will spend on an individual’s health care treatment, which could affect nearly 3.6 million Wisconsinites with private insurance.
The Scott Walker administration and his Republican legislature have made moves to roll back health care protections on the state level as well. Just last week, Walker’s right-wing health care czar Dennis Smith, a longtime advocate for the elimination of Medicaid, announced a sweeping cut of more than a half a billion dollars to the state’s Medicaid programs – a move that will rollback, or even eliminate, coverage for thousands of working Wisconsin families.
The Republican legislature has worked to gut family planning services and completely eliminate the Title V program in Wisconsin, which provides critical health care services to uninsured women and men including cervical cancer screens, prostate cancer screenings, breast and well women exams and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Walker’s backward budget also allows insurance companies to discriminate against women by denying coverage for legally prescribed birth control, a divisive, partisan overreach that not only infringes on the rights of women, but insults the ability of medical professionals to determine which medications and treatments are appropriate for their patients.