Women’s health care access expanded in Ohio


COLUMBUS – A new state budget provision has now taken effect expanding access to treatments for breast and cervical cancers in Ohio. More low-income Ohioans will now have access to care.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is announcing a recent expansion in eligibility for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP) which allows BCCP to cover treatments for women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer.

“If found early, nearly all breast and cervical cancers can be treated successfully. BCCP helps eligible women receive lifesaving screenings and treatment,” said Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “With the support of the Ohio General Assembly and Governor Mike DeWine, more women now have access to treatment options for breast and cervical cancers.”

Ohio now offers treatment for a woman who meets all the following conditions, in addition to those Ohioans who are already eligible by diagnosis through BCCP:

• The woman was screened for breast or cervical cancer by a provider who either does not participate in, or was not paid for, the screening by the Ohio Breast and Cervical Cancer Project.

• The woman is in need of treatment for breast or cervical cancer.

• The woman has an income not exceeding 300% of the federal poverty level.

• The woman is not covered by health insurance.

• The woman is younger than 65 years of age.

The Ohio Department of Health BCCP will be the access point for these women and will assist them with applying for BCCP Medicaid for treatment coverage. Partners, including BCCP enrollment agencies, will assist with enrollment and managing new treatment clients. Eligibility will be determined through BCCP in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is proud to have worked with lawmakers through the budget process to expand eligibility to this critical program, and thanks the Ohio Department of Health for its quick action to implement this expansion,” said Leo Almeida, ACS CAN government relations director.

According to ACS CAN, elected officials allocated an additional $100,000 per year to expand Medicaid eligibility for treatment of women who are diagnosed with cancer through the BCCP, and ACS CAN calls BCCP “a critical safety net program that provides free mammograms, cervical exams and other prevention services to more than 7,000 low-income Ohioans each year.”

Women interested in BCCP can call 1-844-430-BCCP for more information.

About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The U.S. Preventative Service Task Force recommends biennial screening mammograms for women ages 50-74 years old, with earlier screening recommended for women with certain risk factors.

The Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System collects data and statistics, and works with the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program to reduce the burden of cancer for Ohioans. Learn more on the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program website.

“The American Cancer Society (ACS) helps people with breast cancer in every community and recommends that women are proactive about life-saving screening, including annual mammograms beginning at age 45 for women of average risk,” said Kathy Goss, PhD, VP of Regional Cancer Control at the American Cancer Society. “ACS’s research has played a role in many of the prevention, screening and treatment advances in breast cancer treatment that help save lives from breast cancer.”

An expansion could not come at a better time, according to ACS CAN officials. Last spring, mammography rates declined by 70 percent because of the pandemic, causing a backlog of screenings or the risk that many people will forego their screenings altogether.

Staff report

Info from Ohio Department of Health and The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

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