Cuts to California Breast Cancer Screening Effort Spur Service Reductions
Many state clinics and mobile care units have suspended or scaled back services after California's Every Woman Counts breast cancer screening program halted enrollment and raised age eligibility requirements, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In 1991, the state established Every Woman Counts to provide no-cost mammograms and breast cancer diagnostic services to low-income women.
In December 2009, the California Department of Public Health imposed a temporary enrollment freeze that is scheduled to last from Jan. 1Â to July 1. DPH also increased the minimum age for program participants from 40 to 50.
Clinics, Mobile Units Cut Back
The enrollment suspension and age eligibility adjustments have led many breast cancer centers and mobile screening units to reduce services.
For example, the Elizabeth Center for Cancer Detection in Los Angeles reported a 34% drop in its patient load during the first three months of 2010. The clinic temporarily closed in April, but now offers services three days per week.
Deborah Wright -- president of Mobile Mammography Screening -- said she laid off all of her 40 mammography technicians and idled her 11 mobile units after the program changes. The mobile clinics screened 1,600 patients in January, down from a monthly average of 6,250 patient screenings in 2009.
For fiscal year 2010, Every Woman Counts received $61.3 million in funding, nearly $10 million more than during FY 2009. About $55 million of the funding came from tobacco taxes and the remainder came from a CDC grant.
Officials said the funding increase reflected a one-time budget boost from an unspent tax and did not cover the program's high costs.
A bill (SB 836) by Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) seeks to reinstate funding for the program. The legislation is currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee (Mohajer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 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.