CANCER REGISTRY: Is Program Being ‘Squeezed to Death’?
The "pioneering" California cancer registry that tracks mortality and survival rates, as well as identifies trends in treatment, is "eroding due to financial neglect," the Sacramento Bee/Capitol Alert reports. The program's annual budget of $7 million has remained nearly stagnant even though the overall state budget has almost doubled. "Seven million dollars is not a lot of money for a program that provides the foundation for [much cancer] research, especially when you consider how much the state spends on health services," said Dr. Carmen Nevarez, vice president of the not-for-profit Public Health Institute. Gov. Gray Davis, who recently declined to increase the program's funding, said that "the budget already allocated $4 million from the state's general fund for the program," adding that additional resources would be allocated to "other high-priority cancer-related services." William Wright, chief of the registry's cancer surveillance section, said he feels the program is "being squeezed to death ... 'strangled' is the word. It is slowly being degraded." He added, "[W]e're missing survival information for Hispanics in the Central Valley ... and people in rural Northern California." Many are bemoaning drops in the registry's standards, such as Dr. Dennis Deapen, executive director of the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program, who said, "It's highly ironic that a system that was created in the 1980s ... and led the nation by setting enormously high standards has come to this" (Rojas, 9/17).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.