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Press Release

Reps. Castor, Garbarino Reintroduce Bipartisan Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act

Today, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (FL14) and Andrew Garbarino (NY02) reintroduced the bipartisan Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act. This legislation would provide immediate access to support and medical care for individuals with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) who already qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are therefore eligible for Medicare. Under current law, these individuals must wait five months for SSDI and 24 months for Medicare benefits to take effect. This bill would waive both waiting periods, helping individuals with late-stage cancer get the benefits they are eligible to receive.

Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the breast to the bones, lungs or other distant parts of the body. While there are some treatments, there is no cure. The average life expectancy of an individual with metastatic breast cancer is 3 years. 

“The statistics are startling. In 2022, it is estimated that 43,780 people died from breast cancer in the United States - 90 percent as a result of metastatic breast cancer. To save lives and improve breast cancer outcomes, we must invest in treatments and cures and increase access to affordable, quality care for individuals with MBC. Immediately connecting recently-diagnosed individuals with access to treatment can improve outcomes, and our bipartisan bill would eliminate barriers and reduce current health disparities in care. People diagnosed with MBC should not have to worry about long waiting periods for eligibility to care and I look forward to working with my colleague, Rep. Andrew Garbarino, to deliver financial security and critical care to famiies,” said Rep. Castor.

"In New York, over 16,800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and about 2,500 women die from the disease annually. Long Island has among the highest occurrences of breast cancer in the country," said Rep. Garbarino. "These numbers and the real people they represent make this issue deeply personal for me and for my constituents. Roughly 90% of breast cancer deaths are a result of metastatic disease and the life expectancy of an individual with metastatic breast cancer is anywhere between 4 and 36 months. Given this timeframe, it is outrageous to double the suffering of those living with this horrible disease by making them wait to gain access to health benefits that they are immediately eligible for. This bill waives these onerous waiting periods, relieving the potential financial burden on those with the disease, and allowing them to focus on fighting the cancer." 

“A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is devastating to any individual and their loved ones.  Imposing an arbitrary waiting period for health care and disability benefits in this situation is cruel. Women and men are dying while waiting for approved benefits they are entitled to under the law." said Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. "We are grateful to Reps. Garbarino and Castor for their leadership to close the loophole once and for all. The thousands of NBCC advocates across the country stand ready to work with them to make certain this legislation becomes law."

This bicameral, bipartisan bill received 240 House cosponsors and 29 Senate cosponsors in the 117th Congress.