Does every woman still count?

Today, we are seeing some of the first effects of the new breast cancer screening guidelines recently released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Every Woman Counts, a joint program by the state Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, provides mammograms for low-income women who are either uninsured or underinsured, but do not qualify for Medicaid.

However, citing budgetary concerns, the state announced it was not accepting new patients until next Fiscal Year, which begins on July 1. It also announced that once they do begin screening new patients again, only women age 50 and above will be eligible. Considering that one-fourth to one-third of the 270,000 women who are typically screened by the program are in their 40s, limiting it to women 50 and above amounts to a rather significant reduction.

Today, Assemblymembers Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, health organizations, breast cancer survivors and advocates held a press conference to express their outrage at the California Department of Public Health’s new directive to shut the doors for breast cancer screening services for 1.2 million low-income and uninsured.

“This is a certain death sentence for many women. I find it unconscionable that state officials would arbitrarily prevent access to women under the age of 50 and cease enrolling those who are eligible. Statistics show that early screening and detection for all women saves lives and money,” said Assemblymember Pedro Nava, author of AB 359 signed by the Governor earlier this year which increased access to digital mammography for women in California under the Every Women Counts program.

What are your thoughts on the Every Woman Counts program being cut from the state budget? If you’re as passionate about this issue as we are, please visit the Komen Advocacy Alliance online to learn ways on how you can make an impact and vote for the cure.

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