Research shows that cancer screenings save lives. As a cancer researcher myself and volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), I clearly understand the value of detecting cancer early. It increases the chances of successful treatment, improves survival rates and cuts overall medical costs. Unfortunately, thousands of uninsured and underinsured women in Illinois are in danger of losing access to crucial cancer screening tests, if Governor Quinn does not protect funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP).
The IBCCP provides free pap tests and mammograms to low income women who are uninsured or underinsured. Women diagnosed through IBCCP gain eligibility for comprehensive treatment services through the state Medicaid program. Even though the Affordable Care Act will provide women with greater access to cancer screenings and services, gaps will still remain for women who are uninsured or underinsured. For these women, IBCCP maybe the only option they will have to access screening and early detection programs.
Unfortunately, in the past three years, fewer women have had access to lifesaving cancer screenings because of cuts to IBCCP. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Illinois; I urge Governor Quinn to make breast cancer screening and treatment a top priority in his budget address.