Director of State Prostate Cancer Treatment Program Submits Contingency Plans for Continued Operation
At the request of state officials, the director of a state program to treat low-income uninsured men with prostate cancer this week submitted contingency plans to treat patients through June 30 -- the end of the state's fiscal year -- or through Dec. 31, depending upon how much funding is available for the program following state funding cuts, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rabin, Los Angeles Times, 2/6). Faced with $1.1 billion in funding cuts approved by the Legislature last year, the Department of Health Services eliminated contracts for the Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians with Prostate Cancer program, in addition to funding for research into birth defects and some diseases (California Healthline, 2/2). The Times reports that about 320 prostate cancer patients are "in limbo" on whether they will receive medical services because of the budget cuts and that more than 20 patients have been denied services and put on a waiting list since the program stopped accepting new patients. "We're triaging patients," program director Dr. Mark Litwin said, adding, "I didn't sign up to play God. The bottom line for me is I've got guys dying." IMPACT, which is based at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center, was launched in July 2001 to provide treatment to men between ages 18 and 65 who have annual incomes of less than $18,000. According to the Times, it is the first state-funded program in the nation to provide treatment for uninsured prostate cancer patients (Rabin, Los Angeles Times, 2/6).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.