Under the current law, Medicaid patients receive a breast exam, screening mammography and a pap smear free of charge.
But if they are diagnosed with cancer, it becomes much more difficult to get treatment.
The Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women 45 to 64 who have a single income of 21,000 or less. But once a woman is diagnosed, some are often left with no way to pay for treatment.
Cindy Tanton, a R.N., Nurse Mgr. at Southeast Alabama Medical Center, says, “What do you do when you receive a diagnosis of cancer and you have no way to pay for your coverage? For your free treatment it's almost unethical to diagnose a cancer and not provide treatment.”
Under the new law, Alabama Medicaid has agreed to provide coverage for any woman diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through this program from screening to diagnosis to treatment.
Tanton says, “Women who were hesitant to have their tests because they didn't know what they'd do if they had a problem now have a resource. Not only is it important. Not only is it important to get screened, but it's important to know if you do have an abnormal finding that you going to have the appropriate care to take care of that problem.”
Patients who are already under treatment for either of these diseases who qualify for this program can now enroll for Medicaid reimbursement.
Tanton says, “It will pick up even if you're already in treatment so you can have some reimbursement for your treatment.”
Hopefully this new law will encourage more women to go for screenings.
Tanton says, “You cut down that barrier of fear, you know what I am going to do if I find a disease and you also let women know that they're going to be able to receive the best possible care.”
Anyone that is currently in treatment and thinks they are eligible for this program should talk with their healthcare provider to get the paperwork started for coverage.
They can also contact their local Alabama Department of Public Health Coordinator.
For more information about the program or to register contact Jackie Wilson at 334-347-9574.