U.S. to Women:
Cancer Tests? Yes; Treatment? No

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In a truly cruel and bizarre consequence of our patchwork medical care system, low-income women are now eligible for free cervical and breast cancer screenings, but not for government insurance to pay for medical treatment.

About 1.5 million women have been screened under the auspices of the Center for Disease Control since the program began in 1990, according to New York’s Newsday. About 3,500 were diagnosed with breast cancer and 400 with cervical cancer. The numbers are expected to rise as more states begin to take advantage of the CDC program.

A bill that would permit states to choose to provide Medicaid to the cancer victims passed in the House. New York Republican Representative Rick Lazio–now running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Hillary Clinton–sponsored it. However, no current senator has been willing to lead the fight in that chamber. Moreover, even if the bill passes, some states inevitably will refuse to provide the women with the government-paid health insurance.

Lazio’s motive is clear. He has said he is pro-choice but against a controversial procedure used for post-first-term abortions, a having-it-both-ways tack that is winning him little support among women voters. He clearly needs a campaign issue that will provide him with an irrefutably pro-woman stance. The alarming thing is that apparently no senator feels similar pressure.

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