Komen Colorado monitors public policy decisions at the state level that affects access to breast cancer care. The Affiliate supports Susan G. Komen®’s federal breast cancer advocacy priorities by educating members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation about how federal laws and regulations could impact breast cancer patients and survivors.
Komen Colorado’s advocacy work is directed by the Affiliate’s Public Policy Advisory Committee and carried out by a grassroots network of breast cancer patients, survivors and providers. To learn more or join our advocacy efforts, sign up to volunteer today!
- 2016 Federal Priorities
- 2016 State Priorities
- Mammography Guidelines
- Health Insurance
- Your Voice on the Hill
President Obama released his budget in February for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), a $4.1 trillion proposal that has little chance of being fully enacted, but will set parameters for negotiations with Congress. Komen’s federal budget priorities include:
- A $1 billion (3.2%) increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) bringing the funding level to $33.1 billion in FY17. Included in this amount is $5.9 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), an increase of $680 million (13%) from FY16. The budget also includes mandatory funding for the new Cancer Moonshot initiative that Obama introduced during the State of the Union.
- A 20% cut to the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which funds Colorado’s Women’s Wellness Connection program, bringing funding for FY17 to just over $169 million. Health care reform through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased access to breast and cervical cancer screening services for many low-income, underserved women through increased insurance coverage, eliminating cost-sharing and expanding Medicaid. However, at last year’s funding levels the program was only reaching 10% of eligible women. NBCCEDP is a critical tool to ensuring low-income women around the country can receive high-quality breast and cervical cancer screening services.
On February 2, Susan G. Komen’s leadership met with representatives from the White House, the Office of Vice President Biden and leaders from other governmental agencies to discuss the Cancer Moonshot initiative. We were asked to discuss our work with Big Data, Komen’s dedication to patients through the important work of the affiliate network, our investments in research that is accelerating the cures and improving treatment and treatment delivery, Health Equity and our 2016 Advocacy Priorities. Komen is eager to explore ways in which Vice President Biden can work with the cancer community to expedite innovative solutions for patients and families impacted by cancer. We look forward to working to ensure that the patient voice is a critical component of the Vice President’s vision of a moonshot to cure cancer.
This year at Colorado’s General Assembly, Komen Colorado supported legislation sponsored by Representative Dianne Primavera (D, HD 33) and Senator Nancy Todd (D, SD 28), House Bill 1381, “Early Detection of Cancer.” This bill would have required insurance plans to cover 100% of expenses for mammograms and non-invasive call-back procedures for additional breast imaging to complete a breast cancer screening. Currently, only mammograms are covered at 100%. However, some women require more than a mammogram to complete their routine preventive breast cancer screenings – and they’re often charged costly fees for those additional breast imaging procedures. The need for additional tests most often affects women at high risk for breast cancer or about 10% of women who have an inconclusive mammogram result and are called back for medically recommended tests.
Find out how your legislators voted by looking up your state senator and state representative here, then clicking the “How Legislators Voted” link below.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on in January 2016 finalized recommendations for routine mammography screening every two years beginning at age 50, rather than 40, for women of average risk for breast cancer. This is similar to USPSTF recommendations in 2009 that sparked a national debate into the appropriateness of mammography screening before age 50. Read Komen Colorado’s response to the guidelines here.
In addition, the recommendations:
- assign a “C” grade to mammography screening guidelines for women aged 40-49
- say there is insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of:
- mammography screening for women over age 75
- tomosynthesis as a screening method for breast cancer
- using breast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), tomosynthesis, or other secondary screening methods in women determined to have dense breast tissue but a negative screening mammogram.
Susan G. Komen® believes women of any age, in consultation with their health care providers, should be able to make informed decisions about breast cancer screening without fear of economic or other barriers and that whenever a woman decides to begin screening, it should be covered by all types of insurance.
Health Insurance for Breast Cancer Needs
Komen Colorado evaluates whether private health insurance plans sold through Connect for Health Colorado meet the needs of breast cancer patients and survivors. We evaluate:
- Compliance with federal and state law: Do plans include coverage for screening mammography; parity in cost-sharing for anti-cancer medication regardless of whether it is administered intravenously or orally; reconstructive surgery and lymphedema treatment after mastectomy; and other required coverage?
- Scope of coverage: Do plans provide coverage for diagnostic procedures, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and adjuvant therapy? Is fertility assistance covered if treatment would affect a breast cancer patient’s fertility?
- Cost-sharing structures: Which covered benefits are subject to deductibles, co-pays, or other cost-sharing arrangements, and how does that affect affordability of care?
- Komen Colorado and Komen Colorado South submitted comments to Colorado’s Division of Insurance regarding the baseline level of coverage that Colorado should accept for commercial plans sold beginning in 2017.
- Komen Colorado submitted comments regarding the baseline level of coverage for women’s health benefits for individuals who use Medicaid as their form of Insurance to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.
Your Voice on the Hill by Toni Panetta
As the leader of the global breast cancer movement, Susan G. Komen® engages on public policy issues made by federal policymakers that affect access to life-saving health care and critical medical research. Here in Colorado, Komen Colorado is your advocate on state-level policy decisions. Our public policy advisory committee meets monthly to identify and prioritize issues that affect breast cancer patients, survivors, and women and men attempting to access mammograms and diagnostic procedures. Read on for a glance of what we’ve been following lately. To learn how you can participate in our public policy efforts, email Director of Mission Programs Toni Panetta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Educating Our Elected Officials
With the annual August congressional recess jut around the corner, Komen Colorado is working to schedule local meetings with Senators Bennet and Gardner and Representatives DeGette, Polis, Tipton, Buck, Coffman and Perlmutter – who represent the Affiliate’s 22-county service area in Washington, D.C. Two of our board members, Lauren Schwartz and Elizabeth Johnston, attended a briefing in Englewood about the 21st Century Cures Act sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO1) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI6). The landmark legislation seeks to accelerate the pace of medical research and secure increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, which houses the National Cancer Institute. Susan G. Komen is carefully watching this legislation to evaluate its potential to improve breast cancer research opportunities.
Komen Colorado board members Lauren Schwartz and Elizabeth Johnston
Komen Colorado staff and board also met recently with Senator Cory Gardner at his Denver district office to educate the Senator about our federal legislative priorities:
- Protecting funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which authorizes Colorado’s Women’s Wellness Connection program that provides screening and diagnostic services at 130 locations in Colorado
- Increasing funding for breast cancer research
- Ensuring parity in patient cost-sharing responsibilities between orally administered anti-cancer medication and those administered intravenously (oral parity)
- Ensuring pending national breast cancer screening mammography guidelines don’t result in a loss of insurance coverage
Protecting Screening Mammography Recommendations
In April, the United States Preventive Services Tasks Force (USPSTF) released draft screening mammography recommendations for women at average risk of breast cancer that were of concern to Komen. The draft recommendations:
- Called for routine mammography screening every two years beginning at age 50 (rather than 40 – the age recommended by the American College of Radiology, American Cancer Society and Komen); this is similar to USPSTF recommendations in 2009 that sparked a national debate into the appropriateness of mammography screening before age 50.
- Assigned a “C” grade to mammography screening guidelines for women aged 40-49.
- Said there is insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of:
- mammography screening for women over age 75;
- tomosynthesis as a screening method for breast cancer; or
Komen believes women of any age, in consultation with their health care providers, should be able to make informed decisions about breast cancer screening without fear of economic or other barriers. We are concerned that if the recommendations are finalized as published in April, women could lose health insurance coverage for annual mammograms beginning at age 40, that there would be confusion among both women and health care providers about which screening recommendations are best to detect breast cancer early, and that decades of progress increasing survivorship could be reversed because breast cancers that would otherwise be detected early at an annual mammogram go undetected for up to two years.
To voice our concerns, Komen Colorado submitted a statement of concern to USPSTF, delivered 150+ postcards from survivors and health care professionals who expressed their concerns, and encouraged our supporters to submit comments through the USPSTF Web site. We are working with the national Komen staff to track USPSTF’s final recommendations and take appropriate action to protect access to life-saving mammography.
On the Hill in Washington D.C.
Earlier this year, Komen Colorado’s director of mission programs and public relations coordinator joined representatives from Komen affiliates across the country for the 2015 Susan G. Komen Advocacy Summit. We partnered with Komen Colorado South to meet with staff of Colorado’s congressional delegation to discuss threats to the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) and the importance of parity in patient cost-sharing responsibilities between orally administered anti-cancer medication and those administered intravenously.
Nancetta Westcott, CEO of Komen Colorado South; Tiffany Andrews, marketing coordinator, Komen Colorado; Toni Panetta,
director of mission programs, Komen Colorado; and Natalie Farr, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Cory Gardner
Toni Panetta is director of mission programs for Susan G. Komen Colorado. Contact her at email@example.com.