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Two Queens lawmakers make history with passage of bill to help women and post-mastectomy survivors

Queens bill for women and mastectomy
Photo via Getty Images

Queens lawmakers Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato made history when the New York State Legislature passed their groundbreaking bill to help women and survivors of a post-mastectomy who have been impacted by breast cancer. 

Bill A.8537 passed the Assembly on May 3 with 147-0 votes, and bill S.7881 passed the Senate on May 31 with 63-0 votes, passing both houses in a bipartisan and unanimous manner. The bill will now head to the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul to be signed into law. 

The bill is set to amend the insurance law and will provide coverage and information on chest wall reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy or partial mastectomy, commonly known as “aesthetic flat closure.” 

“Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by breast cancer. The courageous women who brought this issue to my attention told me their struggles and how they wanted to be in control and decide how their bodies looked after their mastectomy,” Amato said. “The women in our state who have had a mastectomy don’t deserve to just survive, but the opportunity to thrive and live their lives the best way possible. Our bill sends a message that women in New York will get that chance and can make that decision.” 

Currently, breast reconstruction is covered by insurance and while many women pursue reconstructive surgeries women also choose to “stay flat” and pursue aesthetic flat closure. 

Women who forgo breast reconstruction are most often done in one surgery, but about one in four will require revision to produce an acceptable aesthetic result or an aesthetic flat closure.

Too often, these women are told that their revision surgery is “cosmetic” and therefore will not be covered by insurance. 

With this new bill, flat closure procedures would be covered by insurance just like reconstructive surgery. This change in the law gives women a choice in how they want their post-mastectomy body to look. 

Stavisky said she is proud to sponsor the bill and thanked Amato for championing a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body.

“One in every eight women in this country will experience the life altering and traumatic experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer. If a woman undergoes a mastectomy as a treatment for her cancer, the aftermath of that surgery should be entirely within her control,” Stavisky said. “If a woman chooses to undergo chest wall reconstruction, that is her right and it should be covered by insurance, in the same manner as breast reconstruction.”

Amato and Stavisky have started on the next and final step which involves getting Hochul to sign the bill into law. 

“This is an issue that cannot wait. There are too many cases where women have been forced into decisions they have not wanted. Our state’s legislative bodies have come together from both sides of the aisles to support and pass this bill,” Amato said. “It is now in the hands of the governor. We are asking Governor Hochul to act now and help women have control over their post-mastectomy bodies.” 

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