Senate Bill Would Require at Least 48 Hours of Hospital Care After Breast Cancer Surgery

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A bill in front of the U.S. Senate would require insurance companies to pay for at least 48 hours of hospital care, if it's needed, after a woman has either a mastectomy or a lumpectomy and lymph node removal to diagnose and treat breast cancer. About 20 states already have a requirement like this. Legislators who support the bill want to make sure that all women who have breast cancer surgery have recovery time covered by insurance, no matter where they live.

The bill was written because insurance companies increasingly have been refusing to cover recovery time in the hospital after the day of breast cancer surgery. In the past, some insurance companies refused to cover recovery time in the hospital after a woman gave birth, which meant new mothers were discharged that same day. Because of this, U.S. legislators created laws that made insurance companies cover at least one overnight hospital stay for recovery time after childbirth.

Refusing to pay for recovery time in the hospital after breast cancer surgery is a decision insurance companies make based on economics, not the best interests of patients and their health care. Breastcancer.org believes that decisions about recovery time should be made together by each woman being treated and her doctors as part of the patient-doctor relationship, not by insurers. It's unfortunate that legislation may be needed to resolve the issue. But Breastcancer.org strongly supports legislators' efforts to create a law that will require insurers to cover an adequate recovery time in the hospital after breast cancer surgery, allowing each woman to get the care that she needs.

Another Senate bill discussed in this news story would direct $40 million to fund national research on environmental factors that contribute to breast cancer development. Because this bill earmarks research funds for a specific issue, some researchers are concerned that these requirements might limit funding for research on other important issues related to breast cancer. Critics worry that advocacy groups with the loudest voice and most money could influence legislation that favors the group's research interests over others. To avoid this problem, legislators also are considering an alternate bill that would create an expert review panel to make recommendations on spending federal research funds.

Breastcancer.org believes that research on environmental factors that contribute to breast cancer development is vital to reducing the number of breast cancer diagnoses. Still, it's also critically important to anyone diagnosed with breast cancer today that research is done on ALL potential causes of breast cancer, as well as on techniques to improve diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life. Breastcancer.org urges the U.S. Congress to make all breast cancer research needs a priority.

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