Why is the Bush administration cutting $1.4 million in breast and cervical cancer screening for low-income and uninsured women, you ask? Because they can. As the website Thought Crimes puts it, “A billionaire Bush supporter needed that $1.4 million more than you did, missy.” Too bad you’ll have to die of a curable, preventable disease.
Illogical Cutbacks on Cancer
The federal government has a national breast and cervical cancer early detection program, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It provides screening and other important services to low-income women who do not have health insurance, or are underinsured.
There is agreement across the board that the program is a success. It saves lives and it saves money. Its biggest problem is that it doesn’t reach enough women. At the moment there is only enough funding to screen one in five eligible women.
A sensible policy position for the Bush administration would be to expand funding for the program so that it reached everyone who was eligible. It terms of overall federal spending, the result would be a net decrease. Preventing cancer, or treating it early, is a lot less expensive than treating advanced cancer.
So what did this president do? He proposed a cut in the program of $1.4 million (a minuscule amount when you’re talking about the national budget), which would mean that 4,000 fewer women would have access to early detection.
This makes no sense. In human terms, it is cruel. From a budget standpoint, it’s self-defeating.
“The program is really designed to help working women,” said Dan Smith, a senior vice president at the American Cancer Society. “They may be working at a job that doesn’t provide health insurance, but they’re not the poorest of the poor who would qualify for Medicaid.”