Cancer screening program fights to get back into budget
BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal cut the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program from his proposed budget. Now the program is fighting to get back in.
The program used $700,000 in state dollars along with federal money to provide free cancer screenings for uninsured women such as Laura Lott.
"Since I have four boys, still very small children I really didn't have the money to pay for insurance. Much less medical procedures to be done," she says.
Through early detection, Lott found out she had cancer not once, but three times. Along with the screenings, she says the program also paid for most of her treatment.
"So to have that and not have to worry about the bills, especially when you're dealings with a life threatening disease, you're fighting for your life pretty much means a lot," Lott explains.
The Department of Health and Hospitals' screening program was not cut and Medicaid provides free screenings and treatment as well.
However American Cancer Society's Andrew Muhl says many will lose access to care if the program isn't saved.
"The Medicaid population is a much smaller population. And there are much more stringent guidelines on who receives access. This program catches that group in the middle, the working poor, the working uninsured," he says.
Muhl says he's talking to the House Appropriations Committee about getting the money back. It's a discussion some legislators seem open to having.
"Of course we're cutting all through state government. But when it's something this essential, when it has the potential to save so many lives, that is important," says Representative Ted James.
Louisiana has the highest breast cancer death rate in the country according to the American Cancer Society.