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Pallone Statement at Health Hearing on Breast Cancer Legislation


Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, gave the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing on H.R. 1157, the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2007 and H.R. 758, the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007.

"Good morning. Today the Subcommittee is meeting to review two important bills relating to breast cancer: H.R. 1157, the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2007 and H.R. 758, the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women. Each year in America, approximately 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, of which nearly 41,000 lose their lives.

"Undoubtedly, many of us know some of these women. They are our mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, daughters, co-workers, and friends. Families across the country are confronted with this terrible disease every day. In fact, breast cancer has hit close to home for me and my family, after my mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with the disease. So I can personally attest to the struggle these families have to face. And, as a son, a husband and the father of two girls I want to ensure we are doing everything we can to beat back this terrible disease.

"While improved access to screening and treatment services have helped reduce breast cancer death rates over the past couple of decades, significant challenges still remain. For example, we are still unsure about what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it. While there have been a number of studies that have looked at various risk factors, we have not been able to draw any solid conclusions about what specifically causes breast cancer.

"H.R. 1157, the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2007, introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey is intended to address the need for more research in the hopes of discovering the causes, possible preventive measures and one day a cure. Let me also acknowledge the work of my colleagues on the Committee, Ms. Capps and Ms. Myrick, who have also been tireless advocates on behalf of this legislation.

"H.R. 1157 would authorize a research program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the potential links between breast cancer and the environment. Specifically, the bill would authorize the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), to award grants for the development and operation of centers for the purpose of conducting research on environmental factors that may be related to breast cancer.

"This bill has strong bipartisan support. Two hundred and sixty eight members of the House have co-sponsored the bill, including a majority of the Members on this Committee. A number of organizations have also endorsed H.R. 1157 and have called upon Congress to implement a broad research strategy as outlined in the legislation. Clearly, this bill is a priority for many people and I am looking forward to hearing testimony from a few of them today.

"In addition to H.R. 1157, we will also hear testimony on H.R. 758, the Breast Cancer Patent Protection Act of 2007, introduced by my good friend and colleague from Connecticut, Congresswoman DeLauro.

"H.R. 758 would require that health plans provide coverage for a minimum hospital stay for mastectomies, lumpectomies, and lymph node dissection for the treatment of breast cancer. It would also require coverage for radiation treatment for women undergoing lumpectomies and coverage for secondary consultations when a patient requests one.

"Presently, twenty states have implemented minimum stay requirements to varying degrees. As a result, some people may question why this legislation is necessary. This bill is not for the women who live in states or have insurance policies that provide these protections. It is for the women who do not. For these women a federal remedy is their only hope. Having access to appropriate medical care should not be dependent on the state that you live in.

"Once again, I want to thank my colleagues who have worked so hard on both of these bills. I also want to thank our witnesses for being here today. We are looking forward to hearing your testimony.

"I now recognize our Ranking Member, Mr. Deal for five minutes for the purpose of making an openings statement."

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