Legislators urged to restore breast, cervical cancer funding

Advocates pushed Wednesday for funding of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP).
Advocates pushed Wednesday for funding of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP).

MONTGOMERY, AL - Cancer advocates from across the state, including representatives of the American Cancer Society, Wednesday urged members of the Alabama legislature to restore funding the state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP).

Other groups participating in the event included the Alabama Department of Public Health, Breast Cancer Roundtable, Deep South Network for Cancer Control, Joy to Life Foundation, REACH U.S.-Mid-South Centers for Excellence in Eliminating Disparities, and Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

"Lives are at stake," said Ginny Campbell, the American Cancer Society's Government Relations Director for Alabama. "Without state funding, low-income uninsured and underinsured women who need critical and life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings will be left vulnerable."

Proposed funding of $360,000 for the BCCEDP program was removed from the governor's fiscal year 2011 budget, and that is a 10 percent reduction from the dollars allocated to the program two years ago. Campbell says the proposed amount is inadequate to meet the need for screening, and that Alabama's program is only screening women age 50 to 64.

More than 84,000 Alabama women between the ages of 40 and 64 meet the age and financial guidelines of the BCCEDP program. However, funding from federal, state and private sources provides screening to only 12 percent of those women.

"Clearly, the money we have is not meeting the need," Campbell said.

Advocates also pushed for support of HB600, which would establish by statute screening programs for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. While the Alabama Department of Public Health administers BCCEDP screenings, that program has not been formally established. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have established screening programs for colorectal cancer.

"HB600 would formalize these screening programs while not mandating funding for them," Campbell said. "This legislation would better position Alabama to receive federal funding for these programs."