BREAST CANCER: House Approves Bill Expanding Coverage
By a 420-1 vote, House lawmakers Tuesday approved a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage for cancer treatment to low-income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the CDC's early detection program. The measure would earmark $468 million in Medicaid benefits over the next five years for women who lack private or Medicare coverage and earn less than $17,000 a year, potentially reaching 3.6 million women nationwide. The federal government would foot 75% of the treatment bills, with the remainder covered by the states. "By establishing this service, [women are] going to have the peace of mind that they'll receive care that they need. If we care enough to screen the women, we certainly should care enough to be able to provide the treatment," bill sponsor Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) said (Rosen, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 5/9). Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, agreed with Myrick, adding, "It's cruel to diagnose these women with federal dollars and not give them treatment" ( AP/Worcester Telegram-Gazette, 5/10). Casting the lone dissenting vote, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) opposed the measure because "it will cause new spending ... and doesn't include cuts in other programs to offset the spending." But Myrick countered that the legislation will not increase spending and that funds will be found "as it moves through Congress." The bill now moves to the Senate. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, killing 45,000 women annually. Cervical cancer kills another 15,000 women each year (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 5/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.