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Cuts in CA Radically Reduce Mammographies

May 26, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging, Practice Management
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Budget-related cuts to a California state program have drastically reduced mammographies among low-income and uninsured patients—much more than the state had expected. As a result, some mammography providers are struggling to stay in business.

In January, state health officials stopped adding new patients to the Every Woman Counts program and increased the minimum eligibility age from 40 to 50. The health department expected that the number of mammogram recipients would drop about 17 percent, to about 21,600 a month. Instead, the program averaged fewer than 10,000 patients a month from January through March.

California faces a projected $20 billion budget shortfall through June 2011, so the cuts are likely to continue, if not deepen.

The Associated Press quoted a state health department official as saying that fewer screenings almost certainly will mean more deaths and more expensive care in the future, but that the budget can’t cover everyone who wants screenings.

Earlier this month, the AP reported that the cuts to the program have forced some mammography providers to shut down clinics and mobile units because of dwindling numbers of patients. Don Cook, chief executive officer of a Los Angeles clinic that may be forced to close at the end of May, said that in the current health-care system, “There’s no money in prevention.” The money, he said, “is in treatment.”

In contrast, some other states are trying to increase mammography coverage for low-income women:

  • A new Colorado law requires insurance companies to cover breast-cancer screening, including mammograms, for women who are 40 or older, who have a family history of breast cancer, or who have a genetic predisposition to the disease. “For us, it was important that insurance companies and women know it’s what’s medically appropriate,” said Governor Bill Ritter, according to KUSA-TV in Denver.
  • In Alabama, a new law requires the state health department to provide free tests for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer to low-income residents who don’t have adequate insurance. However, the Birmingham News newspaper reported, the Legislature didn’t give the health department any funding for the extra tests.

Related seminar: Women’s and Breast Imaging

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One Response to “Cuts in CA Radically Reduce Mammographies”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » CA Restores Mammogram Plan For The Poor on December 8th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    […] new enrollments at the beginning of this year and restrict mammograms to women 50 or older. As we reported back in May, mammograms plunged much more than the state had expected—so much that some mammography clinics […]