A group of Chicago women are traveling to Springfield Thursday to urge lawmakers not to make cuts to the state’s screening program for breast cancer.
The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force will lobby lawmakers to fully fund the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which provides free mammograms and Pap testing for uninsured women aged 35 to 64.
According to Anne Marie Murphy, the task force’s executive director, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a 71 percent cut in funding to free screening and the complete elimination of the cancer treatment program for uninsured and underinsured women.
“We have a lot of women in our community, this is the only option they have to get the screenings,” Murphy told NBC Chicago. “The budget shouldn’t be balanced on women’s lives.”
Local IBCCP agencies have been forced to cut hours and services, waitlist women in need and shut down programs as a result of the state’s lingering budget impasse.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, no further cuts have been proposed and funding will remain the same for the program from FY 2016 to FY 2017. Additionally, the IDPH’s Office of Women’s Health and family services has requested a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the next fiscal year.
The IBCCP detected 634 breast cancers and 1,276 cervical cancers and precancerous lesions from 2009-2014. There are reportedly 75,000 uninsured Illinois women between 40 and 64 who are currently eligible for services offered by IBCCP.
Nevertheless, the number of women served by the IBCCP has substantially decreased in previous years. In FY 2015, 20,387 women were served, compared to 27,142 served in FY 2014 and 34,442 served in FY 2013.