CERVICAL CANCER: Senators Urge Passage of Bill
Testifying before the Senate Finance subcommittee on health care Tuesday, "cancer patient groups urged passage" of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act of 1999, which would allow low income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer under the CDC screening program to obtain treatment through Medicaid. Reuters Health reports that since the CDC began its screening program in 1990, more than a million Pap smears have been performed and 400 women have been diagnosed with cervical cancer. "If we do early detection, we must provide the funds for early treatment," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who co-sponsored the bill. Some states, such as North Carolina, use their own money to provide cancer treatment. But Barbara Matula, North Carolina's Medicaid director, said that when her state's $1 million set-aside ran out, "the state was first forced to reduce the income thresholds for eligibility, and later to deny treatment to women with advanced cancers" (7/29). Noting that the bill would cost "only $315 million over five years," bill co-sponsor and subcommittee Chair John Chafee (R-RI), said, "This modest bill would give states the option to provide those women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer under the CDC's screening program -- many of whom are mothers of young children -- with treatment through the Medicaid program. The coverage would continue until the treatment and follow-up visits are completed, typically five years," he said, adding that "this bill makes all the difference in the lives of low income and uninsured women with breast and cervical cancer" (Chafee release, 7/27).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.