Friday, April 27, 2001

Taft shifts, backs aid for cancer treatment

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In a change of position, Gov. Bob Taft has decided that Ohio should provide matching funds for a breast- and cervical-cancer treatment program for low- income, uninsured women.

        Mr. Taft on Wednesday directed Job and Family Services Director Jo Ann Davidson to work with legislative leaders to include money for the program in the state budget.

        “Ohio has done the right thing,” said Elyce Turba, vice president of the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, and part of a statewide coalition of cancer advocacy groups that fought for the change.

        “The impact of this will be that (uninsured women with breast cancer) will be able to keep their jobs and their income and still get treatment.”

        For several years, a federal program has paid for breast and cervical cancer screening tests for uninsured women. But until recently, there was no money available for treatment based on those tests.

        However, Congress passed a law last year that requires the federal government to pay about 70 percent of the treatment cost, if states agree to pick up the rest. The program covers working women age 40 to 65 who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and have no insurance.

        Ohio had been among many states that had not opted into the program.

        Last month, Fairmount resident Edith Dudley told the Enquirer that she faced several large medical bills when she was treated for breast cancer after being diagnosed through the screening program. On Thursday, she praised the new development.

        “That is really something,” she said. “I guess going to Columbus really helped.”

       The Associated Press contributed.


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