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Wyman Slams Out-Patient Mastectomies

Contact: Bob King
860-703-3311 or 860-702-3300

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman said today that managed-care companies were going too far by sending women home from modified radical mastectomy surgery without an overnight stay in the hospital.

"It borders on the immoral to think that these companies would ignore the physical and emotional pain of this procedure so that their bottom line looks better," said Wyman, who as comptroller oversees health care benefits for 166,000 state employees, retirees, and their dependents. "I intend to work through collective bargaining to make sure that state employees are never faced with a health plan that permits drive-through mastectomies," Wyman said.

Wyman said she understands the need for companies to pay attention to costs, but said they can overemphasize this concern, as some companies did recently by pushing women out the hospital door just hours after delivering babies.

"There are medical reasons for a hospital stay after a mastectomy," Wyman said. "But this is not just a medical issue. It's an emotional issue as well. A woman undergoing this surgery is not only left scarred and bandaged but she also feels deep emotional pain. Managed care decision-makers don't fully understand the emotional impact involved in these cases. A woman shouldn't have to deal with all these issues at home immediately after surgery. The decision should be left to the woman and her doctor, without undue pressure from an HMO." Wyman said she fears that if some managed care companies make outpatient mastectomies their policy, others will follow suit.

Breast cancer is the number one killer of women aged 35 to 54 in the U.S., Wyman noted. One of nine American women will develop breast cancer, she said -- the figure was one in 14 in 1960. This year, it's projected that 470 Connecticut women will die of breast cancer and 2,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

For Immediate Release
August 8, 1996
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