Early February, the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF) traveled to the state's capital for FBCF Advocacy Education Days! Twenty breast cancer advocates and members of the board of directors and staff traveled from all corners of the state to advocate for more accessible healthcare and ensure fair and equal coverage for all. Our dedicated and passionate team worked hard to make an impact in the lives of breast cancer patients and their families in Florida. We are incredibly proud of our breast cancer advocates who not only shared their personal stories to help put a face to the bills we support, but who tirelessly worked to promote understanding of the issues and educate anyone they could talk to. There is no debating experience is often the best teacher, and we could not forge the impact we do without the passion and commitment of our advocates. We are so grateful to each of them for being with us.
We kicked off our first night in Tallahassee at the office of Moore Communications with CEO Karen Moore and FBCF board member, Courtney Cox, leading a robust advocacy training session. Over the next two days, we met and spoke to dozens of Senators, Representatives, and their aides who heard our advocates' stories of courage and survival and what the passage of these bills would mean to them, their families, and anyone touched not only by breast cancer but numerous other ailments that often land patients in the middle of a web of bureaucratic red tape instead of on the path to recovery or immediate effective treatment and empowerment. We thank all who listened to us, especially all who now clearly understand the importance of the role they play in patients' lives and how they help elicit positive change.
We advocated for the passage of legislation such as the "Fair and Equal Coverage of Diagnostic Imaging," which would ensure fair and equal coverage of diagnostic imaging, reducing out-of-pocket costs and improving access to allow for more timely diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram is needed after an abnormal mammogram or for women with a prior history of breast cancer, and with higher co-pays for these mammograms, many women delay or forgo follow-up screenings altogether leading to a later diagnosis--or even worse, no diagnosis.
We advocated for the end to "fail first" policies by supporting "Ensuring Patients Have Access to the Right Medicine at the Right Time," which would allow physicians and patients to make personalized and educated decisions together for better and what we believe more efficient care. This would strengthen patient protections in Florida and patients would receive the care they need when they need it.
We advocated for the bill, "Ending Non-Medical Switching," so insurers can't reduce prescription coverage in a way that forces a patient to switch to a different treatment without any medical reason. This would end the practice of forcing a patient to switch medications mid-treatment, which sometimes causes complications, or making the new formularies so much more expensive that they are forced to switch to cheaper alternatives with different ingredients, sometimes causing adverse reactions.
We advocated for continued and increased funding for the Mary Brogan Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (FLBCCEDP) so the uninsured have access to routine mammograms and early detection. Sustained and increased funding of the Mary Brogan Program means that this year, more than 15,000 women in Florida would not only have access to mammograms, but also to life-saving treatment if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a key ingredient to FBCF's MASS program which focuses on educating the underinsured and underserved through a partnership with the FLBCCEDP.
It is a great privilege to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and the FBCF advocates, board, and staff are honored to give voices to the many women and men who do not have the resources to fight for themselves. We will not stop fighting for you and will make sure your voice is heard. We will continue to push for change and work tirelessly until we end the suffering caused by breast cancer.