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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 5, 2000


                       BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER
                            February 5, 2000

Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will announce a new health initiative to cover more uninsured women who have breast and cervical cancer. Specifically, his FY 2001 budget will include a new Medicaid option to provide insurance to the thousands of uninsured women whose breast and cervical cancer was detected through federally-supported screening programs. This investment of $220 million over 5 years will help bring down current and frequently overwhelming financial barriers to treatment. The Vice President and the First Lady, as well as national leaders in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer, have been strong advocates for this initiative. Similar legislation has received broad bipartisan support under the leadership of the late Senator Chafee, Sen. Mikulski, Sen. Snowe, and Representatives Eshoo and Lazio, and the President today will call on Congress to act swiftly on his proposal.

FOR LOW-INCOME UNINSURED WOMEN DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST OR CERVICAL CANCER, TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE LIMITED. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides breast and cervical cancer screening to over 360,000 women without access to these services annually. Typically, Federal government-sponsored screening programs make every effort to assist individuals diagnosed with disease to access treatment. However, thousands of women still face financial barriers to care, and those that receive some help frequently do not receive comprehensive coverage for services they need.

PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES NEW OPTION FOR UNINSURED WOMEN WITH BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER. Today, the President will announce that his FY 2001 budget will invest $220 million over 5 years in a new Medicaid option that allows states to provide low income, uninsured women with access to critical treatment services. It will:

BUILDS ON THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO FIGHTING BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER. The Clinton-Gore Administration has responded to the significant threat posed by breast and cervical cancer with increased efforts in research, prevention and treatment. Fighting the spread of this disease has been a high priority for both Vice President Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

The Vice President successfully fought for historic increases in funding for breast cancer research, prevention and treatment at the National Cancer Institutes during the Clinton-Gore Administration. He has also advocated for access to cancer clinical trials for new cancer drugs for Medicare beneficiaries as Medicare currently does not cover these cutting edge treatments. In 1997, the Vice President unveiled the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, an effort to unravel the genetics of cancer and help develop new treatments that more effectively target cancer. He has also called for legislation to prevent employers and health insurers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information. Studies show that a leading reason that women choose not to take genetic tests for breast cancer is fear that this information will be used against them.

First Lady Hillary Clinton has championed budget increases for the National Cancer Institute and other agencies to support research on breast cancer detection, treatment, and cures; launched the Medicare Mammography Campaign to urge older women to get mammograms and to promote the use of Medicare coverage for mammography; helped develop and implement the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer, a public-private partnership coordinated at the Department of Health and Human Services; advocated for legislation pending before the Congress to ensure that women who have mastectomies are entitled to sufficient hospital stays from their HMOs.

During the Clinton Administration, funding for breast and cervical cancer research, prevention and treatment increased from approximately $520 million in FY 1993 to $844 million in FY 2000. President Clinton enacted the Mammography Quality Standards Act to ensure the quality of mammograms. Finally, the President's Medicare reform plan would eliminate all cost sharing for mammograms and pap smears, which should increase the number of older women using these critical services.