Ohio Breast Cancer Survivors and Advocates Call on Congress to Maintain Commitment to Breast Health Care Access; Ensure Treatment Parity

Local breast cancer survivors and activists representing Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio traveled to the nation’s capital April 16, joining hundreds of breast cancer activists from across the country to remind our nation’s leaders of the importance of access to cancer screening programs and to call on policy makers to ensure parity of insurance coverage between oral chemotherapy and traditional IV treatments.

“As the health care system continues to evolve, we cannot forget that many people continue to rely on vital safety net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program,” said Gina Chicotel, Director of Mission for Komen Northeast Ohio. “We cannot step back from our commitment to ensuring access to quality breast cancer screening and treatment.”

While on Capitol Hill for the day, the Northeast Ohio delegation met with the offices of Rep. David Joyce, Rep. Marcia Fudge, Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Bill Johnson and joined other delegations from across Ohio to meet with the offices of Sen. Rob Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Komen advocates stressed the importance of maintaining the government’s commitment to vital safety-net programs, such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. They also stressed the importance of ensuring parity between the way insurance covers oral chemotherapy, which often is governed by prescription drug benefit rules, and traditional IV treatments, which often have lower co-pays.

“Many new cancer drugs are out of reach for patients because of outdated insurance rules that class them as specialty drugs under their prescription drug benefits, requiring significant out-of-pocket costs for patients. Conversely, IV treatments fall under the patient’s medical benefits since they are administered at the hospital and involve lower cost-sharing,” said Chicotel. “Treatment decisions should be made by patients and their doctor based on what is the best medical option. We should not force patients to make decisions based on outdated insurance rules.”