To the Editor:
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Illinois. Detecting cancer early 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 Gov. Pat Quinn does not protect funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
Research shows that cancer screenings save lives. Yet in the past three years, fewer women have had access to lifesaving cancer screenings because of cuts to the IBCCP. I urge Gov. Quinn to make breast cancer screening and treatment a top priority in his budget address.
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 may be the only option they will have to access screening and early detection programs.
Please join me in letting Gov. Quinn know that breast cancer screening and treatment should be a top priority in Illinois.
Clare Thibodeaux, Elmhurst, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer