San Francisco Clinic Charges Copays for Free Cancer Screenings
The Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco has been charging $20 for cancer screenings that are "supposed to be free under state law," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. As part of a CDC-funded program, which the state runs through its Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, low-income women receive free mammograms and pap smears. To qualify for the program, women must be older than 40 years of age and have incomes of "no more than twice the federal poverty level." Several nurses at Mission Neighborhood raised concerns about the "possibly illegal" fee. Elaine Christian, a clinic nurse who quit last month in part because of the fee, said, "It's not acceptable at all that a woman would have this barrier to a service that could potentially save her life. I regularly took care of patients for whom a bill of $20 would mean they couldn't afford to buy prescription drugs."
Sandlin also "justified" the copayment as a way to recoup declining state reimbursements. Last year, the clinic spent $51,000 for the program but was reimbursed only $28,000. Without the fee, Sandlin said the clinic would be forced to discontinue the van service. She added, "We charge a copayment for everything we do here. We never make enough to survive. We always have to have copayments and sliding scales." State officials plan to investigate whether the fees are illegal (Zoellner, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).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.