Women with breast cancer are being discriminated against

EDITOR:

“Women who have gone through the trauma of a breast amputation (without reconstruction, in most cases), require a properly fitted mastectomy bra and prosthetic form.

No two bras fit alike, (just like jeans!) and are not a “one size fits all.” We are all different shapes and sizes. Forms come in all shapes and sizes as well so as to properly fit he many canvases presented after surgery.

Picking these items from a catalog and expecting them to fit everyone, simply is not possible. Successful mastectomy care requires a credentialed fitter in order to get a proper fit that will ensure symmetry, comfort and balance. If the bra does not fit properly, the prostheses may cause pain or injury, especially to someone with osteoporosis.

Competitive bidding would not be appropriate for mastectomy care. Reimbursements for mastectomy bras is laughable. Some Medicare Advantage plans pay only $24. As a provider I can tell you that I cannot buy one for that price. A non-mastectomy bra is around $60. A fair price, with my credentials and billing expense, would be at least $75. A lymphedema sleeve for a woman with breast cancer, is not a covered benefit with Medicare but an ED machine for a man 65 years or older, who is way past his responsible reproductive age, is a covered benefit. In my opinion, that is a convenience item and not a medically necessary device. An ED machine costs a provider $190 and Medicare’s payable amount is around $1,000. Back braces cost $194.10 and Medicare pays $941. A knee brace cost is $64 and Medicare pays $571. Mastectomy bras cost an average of $25 and Medicare pays $37.70. Somehow, I can’t help but think women with breast cancer are being discriminated against.

The only provider of mastectomy supplies in my area recently stopped providing services for mastectomy care. What will women do when there are no longer providers left to take care of their mastectomy needs?

Linda Romps

Escanaba