The NYS Breast Cancer Network Public Policy Accomplishments

Each year the NYS Breast Cancer Network carries a public policy agenda that addresses primary prevention/environmental policy, access to quality health care policy, and breast cancer survivor support policy. Public policy change comes slowly, and often the Network carries an agenda item for many years before it is resolved. These are the public policy agenda items either created by or promoted by the Network that have concluded successfully:

Governor Cuomo signed an executive order establishing a statewide health insurance exchange as required under the Affordable Care Act

The provisions of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect on a staggered basis, with some going into effect immediately, but most going into effect in 2014. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are required to establish a statewide health insurance exchange, or default to the federal health insurance exchange. The health insurance exchange will be a one-stop competitive market place for the purchase of health insurance under the rules established in the ACA. The exchange will also provide help for consumers navigating through the different policies. The ACA provides New York with an opportunity to establish a strong, consumer-oriented health insurance exchange with comprehensive essential health benefit requirements.

Bisphenol – A Free Children and Babies Act

This Act was passed into law, making New York the first state to pass comprehensive BPA legislation. The New York State Breast Cancer Network is proud to have taken a leadership role in this process, making children’s health and risk reduction of breast cancer later in life, a top priority in New York State. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is one of the most pervasive chemicals we are exposed to in modern life. Mounting scientific evidence has demonstrated that brief exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds and agents such as BPA during the development of the mammary gland (around the time of birth, and in puberty) lead to changes and abnormalities that can influence breast cancer risk in adulthood. This legislation bans the use of BPA in pacifiers, unfilled baby bottles, baby bottle liners and cups, cup lids, straws, and sippy cups to be used by children under age.

The Prescription Drug Out-of-Pocket Cost Limitation Act

This Act prohibits insurers and health maintenance organizations from creating specialty tiers within their prescription drug formularies. Specialty tiers force patients to pay a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, rather than a fixed amount, as a co-payment for a prescription drug. Additionally, specialty tiers most often apply to drugs needed by people suffering from life-threatening and/or chronic illnesses, thus requiring people with these conditions, even though insured, to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for vital medication.

Governor David Paterson signed an executive order establishing a New York State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program

This program promotes policies within state agencies and authorities to reduce the consumption of materials and energy to help protect public health and the environment. Due to this program, state agencies will purchase environmentally friendly commodities, services, and technology and will develop sustainability and stewardship programs. The initiative was originally launched in 2005 by NYS Breast Cancer Network’s Environmental Committee. The Network’s Environmental Committee worked tirelessly for three years in coalition with statewide environmental groups, legislators, and the Governor’s office to make this initiative a reality. The Agency Sustainability Program will improve the quality of life for all of New York State’s residents.

Adding Breast Cancer Survivors to the Health Research Science Board

The Health Research Science Board tracks pesticide use in New York and allocates NYS funds for breast cancer research. For the first time, six breast cancer survivors, representing diverse communities across the entire state, will join the existing one survivor of breast cancer and one survivor of prostate or testicular cancer. Five of the eight survivors on the board will be voting members. New York State now joins other states, the Department of Defense, and private foundations in recognizing the value of including breast cancer survivors as voting members of breast cancer research funding programs.

The Breast Cancer Survivors’ Support Initiative

The initiative provides state funding opportunities to community-based, survivor-driven, breast cancer organizations that provide essential post diagnosis support and education services to people with breast cancer. This initiative was created by the Network, and carried by the Network, for nine years before it was passed into law. Network members know that survivor-driven, community-based services that grow out of individual communities, provide the most effective way to answer the myriad concerns and needs of people facing a breast cancer diagnosis. However, these community-based services are often overshadowed by the large fund-raising apparatus of local chapters of national organizations; but when people are diagnosed with breast cancer, they often turn to their own community organization for help. Now, for the first time, New York State has recognized how essential these services are and, with this legislation, has established the only on-going NYS funding stream for these unique and reaching community-based, survivor-driven services.

Expansion of the breast and cervical treatment program

The program expansion includes all women in New York State who are diagnosed with breast cancer and are uninsured or underinsured who meet income criteria. Prior to this, a woman’s opportunity to enter the treatment program was dependent on her being diagnosed through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.