Policy on Access to Health Care

I. Patient Rights

The health care system must guarantee the following rights to all individuals:

  1. The right to health care service delivery and information regarding diagnosis and treatment in one’s primary language.
  2. Guaranteed confidentiality of one’s health records and medical history.
  3. Patients’ right to access their own medical records in a timely manner.
  4. The right to see a physician who has no monetary or other incentive to deny or delay care or withhold information regarding treatment alternatives.
  5. The right to be treated in adequately and competently staffed medical facilities that are geographically accessible.

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II. Access

  1. Comprehensive health care and prevention services should be available to all individuals regardless of their race, sex, age, sexual orientation, health status, medical history, or other risk factors, income, occupation, or immigration status.
  2. Health care coverage should never be denied or terminated based on preexisting medical conditions, genetic traits, changes in employment status, or domestic partnership/marital status.
  3. Health care and prevention services should be culturally and linguistically accessible to people of diverse backgrounds.
  4. Health care must be geographically accessible so that individuals are not forced to travel long distances in order to obtain basic care.
  5. BCA is committed to the development and implementation of legislative solutions that will insure universal access to quality health care for all U.S. residents.

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III. Benefits

  1. Individuals must be allowed to choose a health care provider who meets their needs and the needs of their families.
  2. Health care coverage should include educational programs and prevention services that are designed to help individuals promote their health and well-being and potentially reduce their risk of disease (e.g., coverage for smoking cessation programs and nutritional counseling). This includes provisions for educating patients about breast health and the need to understand and know their bodies.
  3. Health care coverage should guarantee the right to screening and access to the latest and most effective technologies for cancer detection.
  4. Health care and outreach services must be provided in a manner that is both linguistically and culturally appropriate.
  5. Coverage should include all aspects of preventive care, treatment, recovery, and follow-up for breast cancer and other diseases, including but not limited to:
    1. Access to standard treatments as well as off-label drugs and new therapies. This would include access to clinical trials and investigational studies (for both treatment and prevention) utilizing new therapies and protocols. Information on new treatments, clinical trials, and protocols should be made widely available to patients and to physicians (including general practitioners) delivering care in diverse communities.
    2. Reconstructive surgery and reimbursement for wigs, bras, prostheses, and any rehabilitation services, including treatment of lymphedema, and complementary therapies (such as acupuncture) for recovery after surgery and treatment.
    3. Mental health services, including support groups and psychological therapy.
    4. Any follow-up care required to effectively monitor for cancer recurrence, such as regular checkups, blood tests, mammograms, and clinical exams.

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[Amended 12/14/05]

The guiding principle of Breast Cancer Action’s policy on health care is the creation of solutions that will insure universal access to quality health care for all U.S. residents. There have been and continue to be monumental changes within the U.S. health care system. The trend toward managed care competition and the increased “corporatization” of health care delivery have raised concerns among health care providers and consumers alike regarding issues of access and quality of care within this rapidly evolving system. Breast Cancer Action is deeply concerned about the potentially detrimental implications of managed care for women living with breast cancer and the loved ones who support them. As an organization dedicated to serving as a catalyst for the prevention and cure of breast cancer through outreach, education, and public policy advocacy, BCA has developed the following health care access policy, which encompasses three principle issue areas: access, benefits, and patient rights.

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