The public will be better informed of the availability of insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prosthesis, under legislation passed 97-0 today by the House of Representatives. As Senate Bill 5481 had already passed unanimously in the Senate, it now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

“Given the choice, nearly 60 percent of breast cancer survivors opt for reconstruction while others may choose to wear external prostheses, but the important thing is for everyone to know they have those options,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the bill’s sponsor. “Too many patients don’t realize reconstructive surgery and prostheses are covered by their insurance, either because they aren’t informed of their options or because they process only a fraction of the information that is shared with them at the time of diagnosis, which can be a highly stressful time.”

Cleveland’s legislation directs the state Health Care Authority to work with the state Department of Health (DOH) to develop a plan for distribution of information to better educate breast cancer patients on the availability of breast reconstruction following a mastectomy and prostheses or breast forms as an alternative to breast reconstruction surgery. The bill also requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and DOH to provide educational materials about insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses.

“This bill will help ensure that accurate information on all options is available to patients prior to making important, life-changing decisions,” Cleveland said. “This will help many women simply by increasing awareness.”

Cleveland learned of the need for this legislation through the Pink Lemonade Project, a local advocacy group, and understood the importance of this issue due to her own mother’s diagnosis, treatment, recovery and recent recurrence of breast cancer.