In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) released the following statement today:
"As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, I express my support for those engaged in the ongoing fight against the most common cancer among women in our country. Breast cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries and doesn't discriminate. It can strike anyone, women and men, regardless of age, race or economic background.
"Statistics show that one out of every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her life. More than 225,000 women in the U.S. will be found to have invasive breast cancer this year alone, and an estimated 40,000 will die from the disease.
"I have been a longtime advocate and supporter of breast cancer awareness, education and research. As a California assemblywoman in 1978, I introduced AB 3548, legislation requiring insurance companies to cover reconstructive surgery or prosthetic devices for women who have undergone mastectomies. It passed both chambers of the California Legislature and was signed into law. In the House of Representatives, I introduced the Cancer Testing, Education, Screening and Treatment Act, known as the Cancer TEST Act (H.R. 1030), in the 110th Congress to promote cancer screening. H.R. 1030 would provide grants for cancer screening, counseling, treatment and prevention programs for minorities and underserved communities. It would also emphasize early detection and provide comprehensive treatment for cancer in its earliest stages.
"I urge all women to make sure you are aware of breast cancer risk factors, doing monthly breast self-exams, and getting regular mammograms to detect breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. This is why the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Obama in 2010 is so important. Because of the women's preventive provisions of the health care reform law, most private health insurance plans and Medicare now cover women's preventive health care services -- including annual well-women visits and lifesaving breast cancer screenings--with no co-pays or other out-of-pocket expenses.
"This means that women can get the care they need to detect and prevent breast cancer before it spreads or becomes deadly, without having concerns about how they'll pay for these services. Insurers will also no longer be able to deny health care coverage because of a "pre-existing condition" such as breast cancer.
"We should take the time and focus on prevention and early detection for breast cancer not only in October, but every month of the year. Together, we can all help do our part in reducing the incidence of breast cancer by speaking with family members, friends, and loved ones about risk factors, education and prevention."