Florida Women’s Legislative Caucus Recognizes Urgency and Votes Unanimously to Prioritize Breast Health Legislation This Session

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (November 6, 2019) – Today, the Florida Women’s Legislative Caucus recognized the urgency of HB261/SB672 and HB263/SB416 and voted unanimously to prioritize the bills to increase survival rates and outcomes for those fighting the disease that affects 1 in 8 women and countless men.

HB261, sponsored by Representative Jackie Toledo and Representative Kamia Brown, and SB672, sponsored by Senator Debbie Mayfield, also called the Step Therapy Bill, will allow a patient to take the drugs prescribed by their physician immediately rather than going through the fail-first protocol that many insurance companies require patients to go through with other less expensive drug options.

“The concern with this protocol is that we are allowing a patient’s disease to progress while trying drugs that are not effective for their disease,” shared Kate Watt, Susan G. Komen Florida Executive Director. “What these patients want is to live. By allowing them to take the drugs immediately that are prescribed by their physicians, drugs that are specific to their disease and prescribed by their physician who has full knowledge of their history, is giving them just that. The option to have a quality and extended life.”

Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) – also called Stage IV breast cancer — is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. It is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver and/or brain. There are currently more than 154,000 women and countless men estimated to be living with MBC in the U.S. today. The disease is responsible for most of the more than 42,000 breast cancer deaths expected in the U.S. each year. About 94 percent of people with MBC were treated for an earlier stage of breast cancer that came back (recurred), sometimes many years later. Only 6 percent of women (and 8 percent of men) diagnosed with breast cancer have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed. There are no cures – yet – for MBC.  Current treatments focus on extending life and improving the quality of life.

“What we’ve said today loud and clear is that we are standing with Susan G. Komen Florida, the First Responders to Breast Cancer, in the urgent fight against a disease that takes the lives of 8 Floridians every day. By the end of this legislative session we will have lost over 1,000 lives. This cannot wait. We must allow a patient to take the drugs prescribed to them immediately rather than going through the fail-first protocol,” shared Representative Jackie Toledo, chair of the Florida Women’s Legislative Caucus.

HB263/SB416, sponsored by Representative Kamia Brown and Senator Lori Berman, the Advanced Breast Care and Diagnostic (or ABCD Bill) will have certain diagnostic tests prescribed by a healthcare provider post mammography screening to be at an equal rate as the mammogram.

Continued Watt, “We need to focus on the most aggressive forms of this disease. Eliminating obstacles and fail first protocols allows a patient and healthcare provider to make the very personal and individual choices needed to thrive.”

Susan G. Komen’s comprehensive approach to fighting the disease includes advocating for patients, as well as driving research breakthroughs, improving access to high-quality care, offering direct patient support and empowering people with trustworthy information. Together with legislators, the organization mobilizes advocates across the country and works tirelessly to remove barriers to care, particularly for those living with metastatic breast cancer.