For the first time, women receiving health benefits from Louisiana Medicaid have access to coverage for breast reconstruction surgery of the contralateral breast following a mastectomy. In addition, they will have access to BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation testing in cancer-affected individuals and those at high-risk for breast or ovarian cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, no matter her race or ethnicity. In addition, the CDC reports that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Notably, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Louisiana Medicaid is committed to providing the women of our state with access to early diagnosis and quality treatment for breast cancer.
Five to 10 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States are due to inherited gene mutations. BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are genes that protect a cell from one step on the path to cancer. When these genes mutate, the cell can progress to cancer.
“Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion meets the most urgent health needs of our residents. The addition of this coverage helps to restore a woman’s sense of normalcy after breast cancer surgery, and genetic testing can offer peace of mind to some or it can ensure a plan of care led by a physician if genetic testing detects a mutation,” said Rebekah Gee, MD, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health.
Previously, Louisiana Medicaid only covered breast reconstruction, post mastectomy, on the affected/diseased breast and did not cover genetic testing for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations.
“Louisiana has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation and we are committed to improving the physical and psychological outcomes for patients,” said SreyRam Kuy, MD, Medicaid Chief Medical Officer, Louisiana Department of Health. “These new policies allow genetic testing for conditions that are hereditary so patients can make informed decisions about their plan of care; and now women who required a mastectomy as part of their treatment can now have reconstructive surgery on the opposite breast as well.”
Through Medicaid expansion, women can now get preventive care such as check-ups, breast cancer screenings, and needed prescriptions. Since Medicaid expansion, more than 315,000 have gained healthcare access. Among these newly insured, 1,000 woman have been able to undergo important screening and diagnostic breast imaging such as mammograms, MRI’s and ultrasounds. Additionally, as a result of Medicaid expansion, 24 of those women have been able to begin treatment for breast cancer.
Information regarding this advisory can be found on the Health Plans page at http://www.ldh.la.gov/assets/docs/BayouHealth/HealthPlanAdvisories/2016/HPA16-25.pdf
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.