California Breast Cancer Advocates Say Audit of State’s Screening Program Reinforces Need to Protect Funding; Make Critical Reforms

The California State Auditor released an audit today of California’s Every Woman Counts (EWC) program that suggests the state’s ability to adequately provide breast cancer screening for its neediest women is threatened by budget cuts and poor fiscal management, according to the seven California Affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the global leader of the breast cancer movement.

Late last year the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) suspended all new enrollments for breast cancer screening services under EWC, effective January 1, 2010 until July 2, 2010.  CDPH also raised the eligibility age for breast cancer screening services to 50 years of age and over indefinitely.  The state blamed the reduction in services on declining tobacco tax revenues and increasing caseloads, which were causing the demand for services to exceed available funding.  At the time, California’s seven Komen for the Cure Affiliates, which collaborate on state-wide public policy issues, called for the suspension to be lifted and the eligibility age to be restored to age 40 and above.

The State Audit found that declining revenue and budget cuts severely impede the program’s ability to serve all eligible California women. The CDPH failed to maximize the funding it does receive to provide breast cancer screening services, possibly resulting in tens of thousands of women not receiving services for which they were eligible.

Detecting breast cancer early significantly increases one’s chances of surviving the disease. Komen Affiliates want to ensure that all women age 40 and older have access to lifesaving breast cancer screening and early detection.  The CDPH, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, funds breast cancer screening to low-income uninsured and underinsured women who are not eligible for Medicaid.  Komen noted that when breast cancer is detected early, before it spreads beyond the breast, the 5-year relative survival rate is 98 percent.  Once the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, survival rates plummet to 23 percent.

For more information, 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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