"Together we can ensure that women in Alaska receive the care and coverage they need."
- Rep. Dahlstrom
"An Act relating to an optional group of persons eligible for medical assistance who require treatment for breast or cervical cancer; relating to cost sharing by those recipients under the medical assistance program; and providing for an effective date."
While the federal program was enacted with the intention of reducing breast and cervical cancer mortality, it lacked a critical aspect - funding of the treatment for women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. As a result, many women found themselves without means to pay for their treatment.
In October 2000 Congress, with strong bipartisan support, enacted the Breast & Cervical Cancer Treatment Act that completed the "screen-diagnose-treatment" loop. This federal legislation allowed individual states to extend Medicaid coverage for treatment to women diagnosed with cancer through the federally funded screening programs. In response to this federal action, the Alaska State Legislature passed legislation in May 2001. This legislation extended Medicaid coverage to women diagnosed with cancer by one of the five federally funded screening programs operating in Alaska. That legislation included a two-year sunset clause that will terminate medical treatment for all women in June 30, 2003.
HB 107 will remove the sunset provision and ensure treatment will continue for women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer under the 2001 legislation. This program covered 44 women in 2002. The federal government picked up 70% of the bill; leaving only 30% or $175,835 as the states' share. For many of the women these benefits meant the difference between life and death.
I would point out that we are not singling out a particular group with HB 107; we are taking advantage of federal funding options for healthcare coverage. While AS 47.07.042 outlines recipient cost-sharing, this bill also clearly defines the sliding scale options that are identical to the provisions put into statute by the Denali KidCare program that was overwhelmingly passed by the legislature in 1998.
The number of women affected by this legislation is small; our ability to assist is immense. Together we can ensure that women in Alaska receive the care and coverage they need.