ONCOLOGY Vol 14 No 9

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Cancer Treatment Bill

September 1st 2000

Politics may have a little something to do with nearing congressional passage of a bill (S. 662/H.R. 1070) that would allow states to provide medical treatment via Medicaid for low-income women who have been diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. In the decade that the program has existed, about 1 to 1.5 million women have been screened, with 6,000 cases of breast cancer and 500 of cervical cancer being found. But once diagnosed, these women, whose incomes are too high for Medicaid and who do not have personal health insurance, have to search for “donated” medical care. The Senate bill, originally sponsored by now-deceased Sen. John Chafee, passed the Senate Finance Committee at the end of June. It now goes to the floor, where passage seems assured. The House bill, which passed in May, is sponsored by Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY), now knee-deep in a high-profile New York Senate race with Hillary Clinton. House Republicans are eager to give Lazio something to talk about. The cost of the measure will be about $50 million a year to the federal government, which contributes about $3 for each $1 that states contribute to the Medicaid pot. Nonetheless, the Senate Finance Committee was concerned enough about a potential precedent to include in its report a sentence saying that this benefit “shall not be viewed as a precedent for extending Medicaid eligibility body-part by body-part.”