By Julie Zimmerman
The Gazette has hit the bull’s eye. The Sept. 9 front page article on “Health care coverage for all an elusive dream” is in alignment with our local group’s call for action. The Iowa Breast Cancer Action Foundation is hosting time with your legislator at St. Luke’s Women’s and Children’s Center Lower Level Classroom on Thursday, from 5:30-
The IBCAF will be celebrating 20 years in 2013. Unfortunately, we will not be celebrating what is happening to Iowans who do not have insurance coverage. The IBCAF is a small but mighty group that originated with Suki Cell, Bridget Janus and Nancylee Ziese. These three women in 1993 were all breast cancer survivors with an ultimate goal to find the cause of and prevent this very prevalent disease.
We have all seen health disparity studies that point out lower life expectancies due to geographic, racial and other disparities, but imagine if the exact location in which you live or receive medical care had an immediate impact on your access to medical care. This is a very harsh reality for many across our great state and nation.
Under the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act of Medicaid, men who are diagnosed with breast cancer are excluded simply because they are a man. Under this law, only women are allowed treatment for such cancers using these funds. This means, men may have to pay out of their own pockets. Breast cancer does occur in men.
Under this federal act, eligible women must have been screened through the Iowa Care For Yourself (not the same as Iowa Care) program and be uninsured and found in need of treatment for breast or cervical cancer to qualify for the treatment act. If they were seen in a clinic that does not accept Care For Yourself or they paid cash and were not properly referred to the Care For Yourself program in their local area, they may be on the hook to pay for all of their own cancer treatment that can cost more than a mortgage on a modest home.
The Iowa Care for Yourself program is severely underfunded and only able to help a fraction of the eligible women in Iowa. For example, in Linn and surrounding counties, where upward of 3,000 eligible women reside, those counties are contracted to be able to help fewer than 300 women each year.
Please join us in this dialogue with our current officials and those running for the state legislature. They need to hear your voice.
Julie Zimmerman has been a registered nurse for over 30 years with a Master’s Degree in Women’s Health from the University of Iowa. She is a community volunteer and is the current president of the Iowa Breast Cancer Action Foundation. Comments: J.ZimmermanRN@gmail.com