S.C. budget cuts target health care programs for poor

The State (Columbia, S.C.)May 25, 2010 

The S.C. Senate must deal this week or next with a new round of House cuts aimed primarily at health care, which would eliminate breast cancer screenings for 16,000 poor S.C. women and limit poor patients to three prescription drugs a month.

It's the House's way of dealing with a $21 million shortfall in court and public safety funds it does not want to cover with increased fees and fines.

But $50 million in health care cuts, which some critics say has become the favorite target of Republican lawmakers, isn't a silver bullet, either, health care advocates say. Costs ignored on the front end typically have greater costs down the line. If people are not getting HIV drugs or cancer screenings, then people could die, the advocates say.

Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer.

The five-year survival rate is 98 percent when breast cancer is detected early, experts say, but falls to 84 percent for regional disease and 23 percent over that same period after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

So breast cancer survivors and their advocates say they were alarmed by the House-proposed cuts to South Carolina's Best Chance Network program.

Implemented through DHEC and the American Cancer Society, that program will serve 16,000 women in South Carolina through June 30.

But the South Carolina Mountains to Midlands Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure said 8,000 low-income, uninsured and under-insured women in the state could be denied access to breast cancer screening services if the House-proposed cuts stand.

An estimated 2,820 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women in South Carolina in 2009, and 640 women died of the disease, advocates said.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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