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NYSNYS NEWS: Cancer survivors holding lobbying day, asking legislators to block Cuomo cut in screening program.
NYSNYS News
NYSNYS NEWS: Cancer survivors holding lobbying day, asking legislators to block Cuomo cut in screening program.

By Kyle Hughes
NYSNYS News


ALBANY, N.Y. (February 10) – Cancer survivors gathered Tuesday to urge legislators to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo's cut to screening programs.

"I'm a cancer survivor since 2001 thanks to early detection," said Betsey Porter of Saratoga Springs, one of the Cancer Action Network volunteers who traveled here to meet with legislators as part of the process of drawing up a new budget. "I had chemo, radiation, lumpectomy – the whole bit. My husband's a survivor since 2006 of prostate cancer, again because of early detection."

"We had insurance, so we were able to have that, but other people aren't."

To pay for more screenings, advocates wants the Legislature to provide $25 million for the Cancer Services Program, one of the many programs of the state Health Department that Cuomo has proposed consolidating with the goal of more efficiency and lower costs.

Cuomo has proposed cutting the funding for the program by 15 percent. The American Cancer Society calls the proposed consolidation a "slush fund" that will result in more people needlessly dying of the disease.

"Being uninsured or being a poor person should not be punishable by death," said Marc Kaplan, one of the organizers of Tuesday's lobbying day. The group also is pushing for having the existing smoking ban be extended to e-cigarettes and for more money to be put into tobacco prevention programs.

Also lobbying was Denise Romand of Saratoga Springs who was diagnosed in 1992 with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Her course of treatment included chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

"The most important part of these events is that it is a chance for us to give back," she said of the volunteer lobbying. "The cancer community is far and wide – we support each other. We've all been supported and we want to support the next person … We want to try to end the suffering and death due to cancer."

"The New York Cancer Services Program supports live saving early detection screenings, breast cancer wellness grants and legal support programs for cancer patients and their families across the state," ACS lobbyist told legislators at a February 2 hearing on Cuomo's proposed 2015-16 budget. "The CSP provides breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings to low income women and men who do not have health insurance, or who have health insurance that does not cover the cost of these cancer screenings. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation there are approximately 1.75 million New Yorkers with no health insurance, and untold thousands more who have insurance that either does not cover these critical screenings or includes excessively high co-payments. All of this leads to thousands of New York residents failing to get life-saving cancer screenings if the CSP were cut.

In testimony, ACS said that in 2013 107,330 cancer screenings were performed through the CSP.

"Decisions on where to spend these important state funds should rest with the state legislature, not some unknown, unelected state bureaucrat who is only accountable to one person," ACS said in the testimony."If the 15 percent cut is adopted, using the 2013 screening figures, 16,099 of the most underserved patients will be turned away from potentially life-saving cancer screenings. Who here wants to tell that mom, dad, brother or sister they can’t be screened for cancer?"

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