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American Cancer Society’s influence arm says Legislature’s health cuts put women at risk

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The American Cancer Society’s affiliated Cancer Action Network issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the omission in the current Health & Human Services conference budget proposals of a line item for the “Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program” threatens the lives of average Florida women who depend on public funds for screening programs.

See ACS CAN’s full statement below:

The Florida Legislature is planning to eliminate $1.5 million in funding for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides lifesaving cancer screenings to medically underserved women between the ages of 50 and 64 whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“Evidenced-based screenings are the most important tools for detecting breast and cervical cancer early and improving survival rates,” said  Heather Youmans, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The working poor women of this state deserve the opportunity to detect cancer early when survival rates are highest.  We believe the Senate President and Speaker of the House understand this and we implore them to do whatever it takes to ensure the money is restored before the budget process is complete.”

The Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program first received state money in fiscal year 2013 and in the first two years provided for an additional 6,148 women in Florida to be screened.  Since then, the program received $1.8 million in fiscal year 2015.  An estimated 340 women are expected to be diagnosed with cancer through the program this year. Women who are diagnosed with cancer through the program gain access to comprehensive treatment services through our state Medicaid program.

“House and Senate leadership have an opportunity to prove that they can work together when a successful program like Mary Brogan is hanging in the balance,” said Youmans.  “This is a matter of life and death.  They must set aside their differences and do the right thing for the women of this state. Every additional dollar means more screenings and increased early detection of cancer for at-risk women.”

Florida ranks 3rd in the United States in the number of new breast cancer cases per year and 2nd in the number of deaths. An estimated 15,470 Floridian women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis and an estimated 2,830 are expected to die from the disease in 2015.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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