American Cancer Society applauds Senate’s $1.83 million plan to fight cancer

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The American Cancer Society is praising the recently released Florida Senate budget proposal, which allocates $1.83 million for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program as one of its priorities.

The state’s Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program was created in 1990 to make breast and cervical cancer screenings accessible to all Floridians. The screenings are provided for free or at a low cost for those that fall under the program’s eligibility requirements. The program’s early detection sites are located throughout the state.

“We’re grateful for today’s commitment from Senate lawmakers that ensures access to affordable, timely screenings and a reliable path to treatment for individuals diagnosed,” ACS Florida senior government relations director Susan Harbin said in a statement. “After such an arduous year for cancer care and screenings, it’s our hope lawmakers build on their commitment by increasing funding for the lifesaving program to reflect the severity of the pandemic’s impact on cancer care.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in Florida, according to the ACS. More than 20,000 Floridians are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, a number that has yet to reflect the effects of the pandemic.

At the state of the pandemic in 2020, breast and cervical cancer screening rates fell by 80%, according to the ACS. Cancer diagnoses were down by nearly half last year, and the state has yet to return to pre-pandemic screening rates.

“A $3 million investment in the Mary Brogan program would allow Florida to provide the resources necessary to truly address today’s massive backlog in screenings — particularly in our Black and Latin communities that have been hardest hit financially and make up the majority of individuals eligible for the program,” Harbin said in a statement.

The ACS also emphasized the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on families, including the state’s First Family — First Lady Casey DeSantis was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She has since completed her chemotherapy treatments, Governor Ron DeSantis shared in January.

“On behalf of all families touched by cancer, including the governor’s, we look forward to working with the Senate to ensure such lifesaving action at such a pivotal point in the fight against cancer,” Harbin said.

The suggested funding is part of the $108.6 billion Senate budget proposal, released by state Friday. The 2022-23 proposed budget is a more than $7 billion increase on the current year’s budget, thanks largely to an infusion of federal stimulus dollars given to states to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In health care, the Senate plans to spend $47.8 billion, a $3.3 billion increase on the current year. Much of that stems from an increase in Medicaid caseloads, which shot up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as did federal funding for the program.

The plan will be reviewed and voted on at Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, followed by a vote on the Senate floor later in the Legislative Session. That will set the stage for negotiations with the House for the final spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at kelly@floridapolitics.com.

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