Governor Hickenlooper Reauthorizes and Expands Eligibility for Colorado’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program
Guest post by Michele Ostrander, CEO Susan G. Komen® Colorado.
Colorado’s breast cancer incidence rate is slightly higher than that observed in the US as a whole and the incidence trend is higher than the US as a whole. This year, more than 3,420 women in Colorado will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 510 will die from the disease. With more than 15% of Coloradans uninsured and 27% of individuals between the ages of 40 and 64 below 250% of the federal poverty level, the need for access to affordable breast cancer care is critical.
Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1045 reauthorizing and securing funding for Colorado’s Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment program before a crowd of grantees, donors and supporters at the recent Komen Colorado Hope for the Cure event. This legislation extends the program through 2019 and ensures any eligible woman can receive treatment through the program regardless of where she is diagnosed.
Komen Colorado’s work to expand the Treatment Act in Colorado began several years ago. When Colorado’s Treatment Act was implemented, the legislature chose an option which required women to be diagnosed at a CDC-funded clinic, making it difficult for a woman to qualify. In fact, even if a woman met eligibility requirements of age, income and residency status, she was denied access to treatment if she was diagnosed outside of a CDC-funded clinic.
Our Affiliate first worked on legislation that would add a $25 fee to the special breast cancer license plate offered in our state. Money raised through the sale of this plate would begin a funding stream that would help to eventually expand the Treatment Act. It was passed during a time of declining state revenue. Today, that small fee is now generating $675,000 per year and is helping to fund the Treatment Act expansion.
Last legislative session, we worked with the state’s Joint Budget Committee to add additional funding to the Treatment Act expanding it to cover eligible women. The funding was included in the Governor’s budget; however, the legislation defining eligibility for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment program did not change, leaving the continuation of the expansion in question.
This year, Komen Colorado worked with Representative Dianne Primavera to introduce HB 1045. Senator Irene Aguilar and Senator Larry Crowder signed on as co-sponsors, and the Affiliate partnered with Colorado Community Health Network and American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network to educate the legislature and the public about the importance of this legislation.
HB 1045, signed by the Governor at Komen Colorado’s Hope for the Cure event alongside Komen’s President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno, makes the eligibility change permanent, and reauthorizes the program through 2019. The expansion of the Treatment Act will allow an additional 200 women to receive breast cancer treatment.
Komen Colorado has invested more than $39 million into breast cancer programs in Colorado and raised more than $14 million for breast cancer research over the last 22 years. This year, Komen Colorado grants will support 28 breast cancer projects administered at more than 73 locations across Colorado. Now, thanks to collaboration with the Colorado legislature, women in Colorado, regardless of where they are diagnosed, can access lifesaving treatment through the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment program.
About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.