Kathy Castor Wants to Expand SSDI, Medicare Coverage for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., introduced the “Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act.”

Castor brought out the bill on Thursday with U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-NY, as the main co-sponsor.

More than 35 other members of the U.S. House are also backing the bill including U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

“This legislation would provide immediate access to support and medical care for individuals with metastatic breast cancer who already qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are therefore eligible for Medicare. Under current law, these individuals must wait five months for SSDI and 24 months for Medicare benefits to take effect. This bill would waive both waiting periods, potentially improving outcomes for Americans with late-stage cancer,’ Castor’s office noted. “Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the breast to the bones, lungs or other distant parts of the body. While there are some treatments, there is no cure. The average life expectancy of an individual with metastatic breast cancer is three years.”

Castor weighed in on the bill at the end of last week.

“Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, and 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are as a result of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). We must do more to invest in treatments and cures and increase access to affordable, quality care for individuals with MBC. Immediate access to treatment has the ability to improve outcomes for those with MBC, and our bipartisan bill would eliminate barriers and reduce current health disparities in care. The last thing that our neighbors should worry about when being diagnosed with MBC is when they’ll have access to critical care, and I’m glad to be working with my colleague, Rep. John Katko, to bring financial security to families and expedite access to care,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.

“I’m proud to join lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in introducing the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act. Metastatic breast cancer is a truly awful and aggressive form of cancer that takes the lives of thousands of Americans every year. Current federal guidelines force individuals diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to wait five months to access Social Security Disability Insurance and 24 months for Medicare benefits, leaving many without the healthcare and resources they desperately need. This commonsense bill would waive these waiting periods and allow individuals with metastatic breast cancer to have immediate access to critical support and medical care,” Castor said on Friday.

“Too many women and men in the U.S. have to deal with how to pay for treatment and provide for their families while they are dying from metastatic breast cancer,” said Fran Visco, the president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. “The National Breast Cancer Coalition and its members from across the country who have worked hard for years to address this issue are grateful for Representatives Castor and Katko’s leadership on this bill. It will make a significant difference for those who face this terrible situation.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

KEVIN DERBY
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