The Alabama Breast Reconstruction Law was introduced by Roger Bedford , Jr and passed by the Alabama legislature. This law was introduced because over 30% of Alabama breast cancer patients did not have breast reconstruction because they were not informed about this option during their consults for their mastectomies. This bill mandates that insurance carriers pay for all aspects of breast reconstruction, including needed surgery on the opposite breast. It also mandates discussion and provision of information on breast reconstruction I centers that perform mastectomies and lumpectomies. This assures women , in Alabama, receive the needed information beforehand, so they can have breast reconstruction. It has been highly effective and Birmingham breast cancer patients were making educated decisions on their breast reconstruction option. Founder of the Alabama Breast Cancer Cooperative and Alabama breast reconstruction specialist Michael S. Beckenstein, M.D. stated ” I was tired of seeing women coming into my office distraught over their appearance after their mastectomies. The look on their faces when I informed them that they could have had reconstruction at the time of their mastectomy instead of now having an additional surgery was disheartening. I discussed this with a patient of mine , who was politically connected and she ran with it. I also know two senators and worked with them. Since this was passed more women came in to see us before their mastectomies and are a lot happier! It saves them a surgery, downtime, cost, and risk.”
With the recent changes in healthcare, some breast surgeons are finding they may get paid differently or on a delayed basis if they perform a mastectomy and the patient has immediate breast reconstruction. This financial reason may cause an Alabama breast surgeon to NOT refer women for breast reconstruction reverting back to the pre breast reconstruction law times. ” I have already had a busy breast surgeon inform me that they would not be referring any patients for breast reconstruction for financial reasons. These women , if they are not educated, up front, before their mastectomy, will be denied a huge benefit from immediate breast reconstruction.” Dr. Beckenstein states, ‘This is another casualty of the new healthcare climate, I will again be seeing these disappointed women in my office.”
The only way to avoid this possible trend is for Alabama women to be educated in immediate breast reconstruction and ask for it themselves when consulting with their breast surgeon. If this surgeon does not offer nor wish to perform a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, the patient can find a surgeon who will.” Dr. Beckenstein adds ” it is up to the patient to be educated and ask for this option. If their surgeon does not wish to participate, simply find another good surgeon who will. A Birmingham Plastic surgeon will know which Birmingham breast surgeons still participate in immediate breast reconstruction. We can make great referrals to you!”.
If you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and may be deciding to undergo a mastectomy, make sure you ask your surgeon about the option of breast reconstruction AND IF THEY PERFORM IMMEDIATE RECONSTRUCTION. You can always ask a local board certified plastic surgeon, who specialize in breast reconstruction, to refer you to a good breast surgeon who does!