NU Online News Service, April 15, 6:59 p.m. – Democratic governors have signed at least three major new mastectomy-related bills into law in the past three weeks.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has signed H.B. 662, a bill that requires state-regulated health insurers and health maintenance organizations to pay for reconstructive surgery after mastectomies for breast cancer.

Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon has signed H.B. 1111, a bill that requires certificates of coverage for group health coverage in Indiana to require reonstructive surgery, even if the certificate is related to an insurance policy issued or delivered in another state.

In West Virginia, Gov. Bob Wise has signed H.B. 2730, a bill that requires state-regulated health insurers to allow patients to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours after a radical mastectomy, and at least 24 hours after a more limited “total mastectomy.” The West Virginia bill also requires health plans to pay for reconstructive surgery.

Health insurers and employers may complain about lawmakers trying to use the legislative sledgehammer to settle delicate matters of medical necessity, but even free-market conservatives have trouble bringing hard-headed medical economics reality into discussions about a topic that affects so many families first-hand, and the issue is especially appealing to Democrats trying to appeal to women — and doctors — who may be middle-of-the-road independents or Republicans, experts say.

The Virginia bill, for example, contains language aimed specifically at doctors. It declares that use of reconstructive surgery and prostheses shall be “determined as necessary in consultation with the attending physician and patient.”