he American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) supports HR 5937, the “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act.”

This bipartisan legislation was introduced June 8, 2012, in the House of Representatives by Reps Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Donna Christensen, MD (D-VI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), James Moran (D-VA), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Michael Honda (D-CA).

Health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses since 1998. However, only 33% of eligible women with breast cancer undergo breast reconstruction, and nearly 70% of women are not informed of their choices. The main reasons why women do not undergo breast reconstruction is that they are not informed about their options or they are not referred to a plastic surgeon.

The “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act” requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses, and other options.

“The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will get the best information in the hands of women and their families to empower them in making the best choice for their care,” said ASPS President Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, a plastic surgeon in Albany, NY, in a press release.“Knowledge is power. Federal law has long required coverage for reconstruction and prostheses and no woman should be denied the right to choose the care they need just because they were not aware of their choices.”

As it stands, several states have enacted laws to require that women receive information about their breast cancer treatment and reconstructive options.

To raise even more awareness for the issue, the ASPS and The Plastic Surgery Foundation are launching the first annual National Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day on October 17, 2012. Singer-songwriter Jewel will is the national spokesperson and has written a song to recognize breast reconstruction patients. She will perform a charitable concert on October 29, 2012, in New Orleans during Plastic Surgery The Meeting, ASPS’ annual scientific meeting.

[Source: ASPS]