The Advocacy Alliance of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® uses the power of activism to achieve important legislative objectives at federal, state and local levels. Three women from the Greater Cincinnati Affiliate put that activism into practice as they joined Komen Advocates from all over the country to spend the day on Capitol Hill lobbying their legislators.
On April 16, 2015, Peggy Isenogle, Executive Director, and Melissa Traylor, Affiliate & Finance Manager, of the Komen Greater Cincinnati Affiliate, along with volunteer advocate, Donna Traylor, spent the day on Capitol Hill lobbying legislators that serve the regions covered by the Cincinnati Affiliate. This includes districts in the Greater Cincinnati, Greater Dayton, Southeastern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky areas.
Current economic conditions place unprecedented strains on federal and state budgets. Susan G. Komen® is committed to empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cure. We called on lawmakers to join us in committing to improving access to lifesaving services and removing insurance barriers to cancer treatments.
The first issue we advocated for was preserving women’s access to breast cancer screening by funding the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) at $275 million in the FY16 budget. The President’s proposed budget includes a 20% reduction for the NBCCEDP bringing funding for FY16 to $148 million. We asked our legislators to support the funding at $275 million so that the NBCCEDP will be able to screen half a million women for breast and cervical cancer. The NBCCEDP provides potentially life-saving breast cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women who do not qualify for Medicaid. Ensuring adequate funding to vital safety-net programs like the NBCCEDP is key to ensuring all women have access to vital screening services.
The second issue we were advocating for was to ensure breast cancer patients can access the treatments they need by supporting legislation that eliminates the disparity in coverage between oral and IV anti-cancer medications. Patients should not be forced to chose a less appropriate treatment option simply because an insurer provides less coverage for a cancer drug that happens to be administered by mouth rather than intravenously. Patients and their physicians should be free to make treatment decisions based on what is best for that patient. Ohio passed this oral parity legislation in June of 2014, and both Kentucky and Indiana have also passed oral parity legislation. We were able to thank our legislators for passing the legislation in those 3 states, but also inform them that a Federal Oral Parity law is important to pass due to state legislation not covering all health insurance plans which leaves a significant number of patients without access to affordable treatment.
Peggy, Melissa and Donna were able to meet with several key staff members of the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Senate, along with staff from the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana House of Representatives. Everyone was very interested in what we had to say and very supportive of our cause. Many of the staff members have been touched by breast cancer in some way. It was great to be able to connect on a personal level with so many individuals.
All in all, Advocacy Day 2015 was a huge success! We made a lot of connections and will certainly be following up with and building relationships with our lawmakers.