Donatucci measure would expand state program for more cancer screenings

HARRISBURG, June 16 – Legislation recently reintroduced by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings through the state Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program.

Donatucci’s H.B. 1309 would allow women between the ages of 30 and 65 to qualify for the HealthyWoman program if they meet other eligibility guidelines. The program, designed to serve low-income, underinsured and uninsured women who make up to 250 percent below the federal poverty level, is currently open to eligible women 40 to 64, women under 40, if they are symptomatic, and women 65 or older if screenings are not covered by Medicare Part B.

“We know that risk for these cancers increases as a woman ages, but unfortunately, many young women are faced with cancer diagnoses as well,” Donatucci said. “By screening for cancer today, I hope we can prevent the spread of these devastating diseases and save thousands of dollars in treatment costs.”

Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, with more than 40,000 women dying from the disease in 2011. More than 4,000 women in the United States died in 2011 from cervical cancer, which can go undetected since it may not present symptoms early on in the disease.

“We owe it to our mothers, daughters and friends to make sure they get the necessary screenings for these diseases,” Donatucci said. “Too many women miss out on these important tests because they think they cannot afford them. My colleagues and I want to make sure more women know about the HealthyWoman Program and the options available to them regarding cancer screening.”

House Bill 1309 has been referred to the House Health Committee, where it awaits further consideration.

Women can see if they are eligible for the HealthyWoman Program by calling 1-800-215-7494 or visiting www.PaHealthyWoman.com.