Shekarchi proposes closing loophole for mastectomy insurance coverage
STATE HOUSE – Ensuring mastectomy patients have insurance coverage for all costs related to their surgery will be a top priority this year for House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi, who introduced the legislation yesterday as his first bill of the 2018 legislative session.
Rhode Island law began mandating insurance coverage for mastectomies in 2005. In the 13 years since, insurers have chipped away at that coverage, instituting extremely high copays and deductibles, and leaving breast cancer survivors to cover all or much of the costs of medical supplies they will need after the surgery, such as compression sleeves and prostheses.
Leader Shekarchi said such requirements violate the intent of the law and add to the burdens of people who are already suffering physically and emotionally.
“This bill makes it clear that insurers must cover all of the costs of mastectomies, without copays and deductibles and without leaving people on the hook for all the various medical supplies they need as a result,” said Leader Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “Breast cancer is a very emotional cancer, one that can leave even those who fight it very successfully with a tremendous feeling of loss. That loss should not be compounded by struggles to pay for their treatment or the things they need to heal and recover their lives.”
Leader Shekarchi first introduced the bill late in the 2017 session to begin the discussion. This year, he intends to make its passage a top priority, which he signaled by introducing the bill (2018-H 7002) on the first day of the session as his first bill of the year.
Last year, despite its late introduction on June 8, the bill had 40 cosponsors, including every female representative.
Leader Shekarchi said a number of women he knows personally or professionally have told him about being hit with unexpected costs relating to mastectomies, and that their stories made him feel strongly that the current law is not serving Rhode Island well enough.
“This is for all women, and all Rhode Islanders, because we all know someone who has had to fight breast cancer. One in eight women is diagnosed with it in her lifetime, making it the most common form of cancer among women. No women – or man – who has to go through breast cancer and a mastectomy should also be burdened with high medical bills as a result,” said Leader Shekarchi.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903