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Colorado women face significant barriers to cancer screening and treatment, despite federal money available to pay for these services, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says. Uninsured and underinsured women in Colorado already know what the GAO study confirms: Colorado is one of the 16 most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to connecting low-income women with diagnosis and treatment.
Two of the findings really troubled us as an organization. The first was that due to a lack of funding, more than half of eligible low-income, uninsured and underinsured women nationwide are not receiving recommended breast cancer screening.
The second is that in more than a dozen states, including Colorado, have left in place restrictions to Medicaid coverage for breast and cervical cancer screening that effectively eliminate all but a small fraction of low-income women, leaving the rest with few options for assistance.
“Whether you live shouldn’t depend on where you live,” said Michele Ostrander, Executive Director of the Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Regretfully, this report confirms what we’ve long seen – that in our state your ability to be treated for breast cancer often depends on whether you went to the ‘right’ clinic, or live in a city or rural area.”
Few statewide options for treatment are available to low-income, uninsured women who are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer but ineligible for Medicaid under the Treatment Act. This year, the Komen Denver Affiliate is providing more than $700,000 to help fill the treatment gap locally, and providing an additional $2.1 million for breast cancer screening, diagnostics and treatment support in the 12-county area surrounding Denver.