The National Breast Cancer Coalition is proud of its legislative accomplishments. The following examples are just a few highlights:
In 1992, NBCC brought about the development of an unprecedented multi-million dollar breast cancer research project within the Department of Defense that has attracted more than 26,500 research proposals. Federal funding for this program, since its inception in 1991, has reached nearly $3 billion. NBCC worked vigorously to ensure consumer advocate participation in peer review of DOD Breast Cancer Research Program proposals.
NBCC's "Do the Write Thing" letter campaign set out in October 1991 to deliver 175,000 letters to Congress and the President—one letter for each projected breast cancer diagnosis that year. In an extraordinary demonstration of NBCC's grassroots power, we delivered more than 600,000 letters. This outpouring of letters, plus hard work by NBCC members, resulted in an appropriation of $132 million for breast cancer research to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in fiscal year 1992—a 50 percent gain over 1991 spending.
For or more than a decade, the National Breast Cancer Coalition has made access to quality health care for all a top legislative priority. In 2007, the NBCC grassroots Board of Directors approved a Framework for a Health Care System Guaranteeing Access to Quality Health Care for All which builds on the principles it adopted in 2003. Throughout the process of developing the Framework, NBCC applied its longstanding commitment to advancing evidence-based medicine and training consumers to strive toward systems change. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which became law in March 2010, marked an unprecedented step forward toward NBCC's goal of ensuring access to high quality health care for all. The law reflects many of the principles and priorities NBCC adopted in our Framework and includes important language, which NBCC's advocates worked hard to have included, requiring educated consumers have representation on any committees, boards, panels or commissions formed under the law.
After four years of an intense and aggressive grassroots lobbying campaign by NBCC's nationwide network, on October 24, 2000, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act (P.L. 106-354) was signed into law. This landmark legislation guarantees treatment to low-income, uninsured women screened and diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The Act provides federal funding to help cover more than half of the cost to States that opt to cover treatment for these women through Medicaid. Since this legislation was enacted, all 50 States and the District of Columbia have opted in to this program. This is a testament to the continued hard work of NBCC grassroots advocates at the State level.
In December 2003, the Medicare Modernization Act was signed into law creating a prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries effective in 2006. A provision providing transitional coverage for certain cancer drugs, from September 2004 until the full benefit was available in 2006, was also included in the law. The transitional benefit was based on the Access to Cancer Therapies Act, a longtime NBCC priority that would provide Medicare coverage for all oral cancer medications. Early warning signs from the regulators writing the rules for implementing the transitional program indicated that breast cancer drugs might not be covered. The inclusion of five breast cancer drugs during the transitional benefit was a struggle that was won with the hard work of NBCC's grassroots advocates. This program will cover 50,000 beneficiaries nationwide with total funding of $500 million.
On January 15, 2002, S. 1741, the Native American Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Technical Amendment Act was enacted. This law helps ensure that American Indian and Native Alaskan women get coverage for breast and cervical cancer treatment. NBCC's advocates urged Congress to pass this legislation to help correct the unintended exclusion of these women from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act.
In June 2000, President Clinton issued an Executive Memorandum to require Medicare to cover the cost of routine patient care associated with participation in clinical trials. This Executive Memorandum implemented the policy goals of one of NBCC's legislative priorities. Medicare coverage of routine care costs associated with clinical trials helps to encourage consumer participation in clinical trials, which are the best means of finding the cause, cure and prevention of breast cancer.
On February 8, 2000, President Clinton signed an Executive Order banning genetic discrimination in the federal workplace. NBCC worked tirelessly towards enactment of comprehensible, enforceable genetic non-discrimination protections in health insurance and employment. NBCC successfully worked with the Administration to cover individuals in the federal workplace through the Executive Order.
Since 1998, NBCC has released an Annual Voting Record. This guide tracks every current House and Senate member's support (co-sponsorship/vote) on NBCC's legislative priorities. It has increased accountability for their support, or lack of support, on the Coalition's legislation agenda. It points out the difference between symbolic support of eradicating breast cancer—such as wearing a ribbon but doing little else—and substantive support, such as helping to enact substantive breast cancer policy that NBCC supports.