California Cuts Back on Breast Cancer Screening for Low-Income Women
California officials have announced that a state mammogram program targeting low-income women will stop enrolling new participants between Jan. 1, 2010, and July 1, 2010, the Fresno Bee reports.
The "Every Woman Counts" initiative provides breast cancer screenings at no cost to low-income women who lack insurance coverage, cannot afford their insurance copayments or do not qualify for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Currently, the program provides services for women ages 40 and older.
When the program resumes, only women older than age 50 will qualify for the screenings.
Officials said the program will continue to offer mammograms to current program participants who are older than age 50. In addition, women with detected problems can continue to obtain services until they receive a final diagnosis or treatment begins, officials said.
The mammogram program changes will not affect cervical cancer screenings, which the state will continue to offer to women older than age 25.
Impetus for the Changes
The changes to the breast cancer screening program come a few weeks after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations calling for most women to receive screenings starting at age 50, rather than at age 40.
California officials say the mammogram program cuts were unrelated to the USPSTF recommendations and stemmed exclusively from financial concerns. They said the program's budget could not keep up with the growing demand for services.
The state allocated about $45.9 million for the program in fiscal year 2008-2009 and budgeted about $55 million for this year.
Tobacco taxes provide most of the funding for the program (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 12/7).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.