We Can’t Be Pink’d: The DOJ


See full details and action steps on our Breast Cancer Action site at bcaction.org/we-cant-be-pinkd/doj

In this year’s Think Before You Pink® campaign, we are saying “We Can’t Be Pink’d: Say NO to Pink Policies.” Since 2002, Breast Cancer Action has led Think Before You Pink campaigns each October in response to “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

We’re taking on the lack of leadership, from the President down to agency leaders, in addressing the breast cancer epidemic. So far in October we have taken on the leadership of three different federal agencies that need to do better: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Now we are taking on the Department of Justice (DOJ). During this last week of October, we are calling out the DOJ for their attempts to gut healthcare access and abolish protections for people living with pre-existing conditions, including breast cancer.

Political Cartoon featuring Attorney General William Barr and Lady Justice.

The Problem:

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, breast cancer patients have been caught in the middle of two frightening diseases. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and health insurance. However, the Trump administration and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are siding with 18 state attorney generals in a lawsuit that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The United States Attorney General, William Barr, has taken the position that the entire ACA can legally be struck down. If the administration is successful in repealing the ACA, the impacts would be devastating for the 29 million people who could lose coverage and the nearly 54 million Americans with preexisting conditions, including breast cancer.

The ACA made incremental progress in addressing racial, economic, and gender inequities. It expanded access to healthcare for communities of color, who bear a disproportionate physical and financial burden of our broken healthcare system.

For people living with breast cancer, the ACA has been vital in eliminating unfair policy cancellations for those who get sick (including receiving a breast cancer diagnosis), ending annual and lifetime limits of coverage, ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions, and ensuring that women won’t pay more for the same coverage as men.

Among women in the United States, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer[1]. Breast cancer is a devastating disease, and patients have refused or stopped treatment because of cost.[2] Many people exhaust their retirement savings within a couple of years of being diagnosed.[3]

We need our leaders to treat healthcare a human right, not a path to profits. Take Action: Tell the Department of Justice why we need access to quality affordable health care!

The “Alternatives:”

On September 24, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order announcing that the policy of the United States is to “ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates.”[4] However, striking down the ACA would, in actuality, dismantle protections for those living with pre-existing conditions.

The administration has made promises to replace the ACA with other health plans, but all of the proposed alternatives don’t have a complete set of rules for insurers and standards for benefits or plus financial assistance to make plans affordable for sick and healthy people alike and fail to protect those with pre-existing conditions [5].

If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, people who have pre-existing conditions will be vulnerable once again to health risks and financial burdens.

In addition to the threats for people living with pre-existing conditions, there are tens of millions of people on Medicaid and Medicare who are facing direct threats if costs for prescription drugs rise.[6] This could impact breast cancer patients’ ability to pay for medicine.

The data is clear: putting people on affordable healthcare plans saves lives. We’re saying NO to the pink policy of invalidating the ACA. This administration’s attempt to strike down the current healthcare system is a pink policy! While the Trump administration claims to care about people pre-existing conditions taking away healthcare fails to protect people living with breast cancer and other illnesses.

Take action and tell the DOJ they are failing to protect people living with breast cancer, especially women, people of color, and low-income people.


[1] https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/coverage-of-breast-cancer-screening-and-prevention-services/

[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2018/10/26/pricey-precision-medicine-often-financially-toxic-cancer-patients/1766358002/

[3] https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(18)30509-6/fulltext

[4] https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-america-first-healthcare-plan/

[5] https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/commentary-aca-alternatives-dont-protect-people-with-pre-existing-conditions

[6] https://www.cbpp.org/blog/aca-suit-threatens-disruption-loss-of-protections-for-tens-of-millions-of-medicaid-medicare

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