California Urged To Reconsider Mammogram Program Changes
On Tuesday, 21 members of California's congressional delegation released a letter urging state officials to rescind proposed cuts to a breast cancer screening program for low-income women, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 12/16).
California's "Every Woman Counts" program provides mammograms at no cost to low-income women who lack insurance coverage and do not qualify for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Currently, the program provides mammography services for women ages 40 and older.
In response to an ongoing budget crunch, the state Department of Public Health recently announced that the program would stop providing breast cancer screenings to women younger than age 50 starting Jan. 1, 2010. Officials also announced plans to suspend all new enrollment for the program between January and July of next year (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 12/15).
The mammogram program changes come about a month after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations calling for most women to receive breast cancer screenings starting at age 50, rather than at age 40. California officials say the program cuts were unrelated to the USPSTF recommendations and stemmed from budgetary concerns.
The program changes will not affect cervical cancer screenings, which the state will continue to offer to women older than age 25.
In their letter, the 21 California congressional representatives criticized the mammogram program changes as "penny-unwise and pound foolish."
The letter was released Tuesday at a state Capitol news conference, where advocates and state lawmakers also gathered to protest the cuts (Sacramento Bee, 12/16).
Assembly member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) argued that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and his administration did not provide sufficient public notice about the mammogram program changes.
Administration officials countered that they informed legislators about the proposed service reductions in a May letter and during a June meeting (Ventura County Star, 12/15).Rachel Arrezola, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger, also said the governor is willing to work with state lawmakers to resolve funding issues for the program (Sacramento Bee, 12/16). 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.