A word to our congressional representatives


America’s Prostate Cancer Organizations, including Prostate Cancer International, have again taken joint action to bring our voices together to focus on important issues that affect prostate cancer in the ongoing health care reform debate.

The following letter is now being circulated to many members of the Senate and Congress who have been working on bills designed to meet President’s Obama’s call for health care reform this year:


The undersigned organizations commend Congress and the Administration for seeking ways to extend health benefits to all Americans,  and to make prevention the cornerstone of that effort.  However, we are concerned that the health care needs of males, and the prostate cancer community, are not adequately addressed in the legislation currently being  considered. We are also concerned that these bills appear to preempt  state benefit laws that now require private insurers to provide a number of  critical services, including tests for prostate cancer, the number one cancer  in men.

Men’s health and well-being has a crucial financial and  social impact within American families and communities.  This impact is  highlighted by an Administration on Aging study which found that more than  half the elderly widows living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.*  We also understand that health disparities exist and that Healthy People 2010 made one of its core issues the elimination of gender disparities.

Across all racial and ethnic categories, American men live  less healthy lives and die younger than American women.  Engaging men in  health care has enormous benefits for women, children, and society.

Specifically, we encourage language within the final  health reform legislation that will address these concerns:

  • Current state mandates on health insurance coverage  must be honored.  The Essential Benefits Package as presently written  (in the House bill) will offer only those preventive services actively recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). However, the USPSTF does not recommend many services now required by many  different states. As just one example, at least 36 states require private  insurers to cover testing for prostate cancer. The 2006 Census estimates  found over 35 million men between the ages of 40 and 64 in those 36  states.  Those 35 million men now have coverage for prostate cancer testing if they have health insurance.  They will not be covered under the Essential Benefits Package unless state mandates are honored, and would therefore lose their right to understand their potential for risk of the most prevalent form of cancer in men.
  • The Senate and House bills each establish means  whereby government will determine how best to proceed with prevention and wellness activities in both the private and public sectors.  In  making these determinations, advice will be sought by the heads of various agencies, including the Office on Women’s Health.  This highlights the need for an Office on Men’s Health to advise, recommend and direct wellness and prevention efforts for men and boys.

Sincerely

as well as an additional 19 state-based prostate cancer organizations.

*Meeting the Needs of Older Women: A Diverse  and Growing Population, The Many Faces of Aging, U.S. Administration on Aging.  June 20, 2001.

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