An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But with a tighter state budget this year, lawmakers in the House and Senate have decided there are higher priorities than funding the highly successful Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The Florida House and Senate failed to include any of the $1.8 million in non-recurring funding that had been included in each of the past two state budgets.
In years past, the program paid for screenings for those that need it most. All the funding has been used for screenings, not for administrative costs or overhead. And preventative screening spends money up front to save lives and money on the back end. The program provides lifesaving cancer screenings to medically underserved women who are at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The millions cut from the program will still ultimately be spent on those who get sick.
“Providing women the opportunity to detect cancer early when it is most survivable is something that everyone deserves” said Matt Jordan, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The state’s legislative leaders have supported this program in the past and it’s critically important that they consider the impact that a funding reduction will have on low-income, uninsured and underinsured women throughout Florida – they should be increasing investment in this lifesaving screening and early detection program, not reducing funding.”
The House and Senate aren’t the only ones to blame. The program also was not included in the governor’s budget proposal released earlier this year.
According to a press release from the the American Cancer Society, the program first received state money in fiscal year 2013, with more than 132,500 women that have been screened through the program. Even at current funding levels, however, the program only has only enough money to screen less than 6 percent of the women eligible for the program in Florida.
“Over the past few years, hundreds of women in Florida have had their cancers detected and have gained access to lifesaving cancer treatment as a result of this program,” said Jordan. “Eliminating funding puts thousands of women at risk of dying from a disease that is much more treatable when it is detected as early as possible.”
Florida ranks second in the United States in the number of new breast cancer cases as well as the number of deaths. An estimated 18,170 Florida women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis and an estimated 2,910 are expected to die from the disease in 2017.