HHS and CDC Form a Breast Cancer Panel to Encourage Initiatives for Women Under 40

New government-led panel will raise breast cancer awareness among young women.  The Department of Health and Human Services celebrated National Mammography Day by establishing an advisory committee under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 15-member panel will develop initiatives to increase awareness of breast cancer among women under the age of 40.  “From prevention research, to education for health professionals, to designing and promoting awareness activities for the public, we look forward to working with the committee to educate providers, patients and young women about breast cancer prevention and treatments,” said Thomas Frieden, CDC director.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the panel in a conference call with Jill Biden, who in 1993 established the Biden Breast Health Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides educational breast awareness programs in Delaware.  In 17 years, approximately 10,000 high school girls have learned about breast cancer awareness through the program.  Biden established her program in a year when four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Affordable Care Act includes a provision that if a woman or her family is enrolled in a health plan on or after September 23, 2010, mammograms will be required coverage for women aged 40 and above.  Additionally, the act bans insurers from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits for women.  Beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare patients will be able to have mammograms with no co-payment.  Sebelius noted that 100 American women die each day from breast cancer, though survival rates run as high as 98 percent after five years if the disease is detected early.

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