Wisconsin Cancer Program Gets Cut

The Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) helps women without health insurance by offering free preventative screening services such as PAP smears and mammograms. The WWWP also provides a Medicaid program that qualifies candidates to receive full Medicaid benefits. Many women have benefitted from the program, and rely on WWWP to access medical care. Unfortunately, Wisconsin government hopes to restructure the program on July 1, 2014. As a result, many women will be disqualified for healthcare, and be cut off from pre-existing help from the program.

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How The Affordable Care Act Affects Programs Such As WWWP

Wisconsin legislatures believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will provide for the uninsured. This is what the ACA does:

  • Prohibits insurance companies from dropping coverage when you get sick.
  • Eliminates health and gender discrimination.
  • Allows you to stay on your parents' insurance plans until age 26.
  • Creates a state based directory for federally regulated and subsidized health insurance.

Pay attention to that last detail. ObamaCare will provide states with federally regulated, free clinics and services for people. So theoretically, people shouldn't have to look elsewhere for help. Thus the Wisconsin government has moved to reduced funding to the WWWP in order to cut state spending. Wisconsin government plans to phase out the 72 local coordinator offices around the state that help women find the healthcare they need, and instead rely on six to 10 coordinators to cover the entire territory. However, women in Wisconsin fear that the federally run health centers won't be enough to replace the WWWP in health, financial, and emotional support.

Wisconsin Women Speak Up

Caught in an emotional upheaval of stress, fear, and outrage, women all over Wisconsin have vocalized their concerns with the proposal to shrink the WWWP. DS, an anonymous woman who has relied on WWWP for her metastatic breast cancer treatment, sent a three-page long letter summing up the need for the program to Karen Mckeown, Wisconsin Health Officer. In her letter, DS emphasizes the impact that coordinators make for low-income women. DS goes to say, “To scrap Local Coordinator's positions would massively impact the women that are suffering, dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, financially and emotionally shot and with nowhere or no one to turn to for help they desperately need." Her comments on the WWWP program reflect how women depend on the program not only for its financial aid, but also for the emotional support.

In a different letter, representatives from the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition (WBCC) also express their discontent with the decision to restructure the program. “Although the ACA has increased access to mammography coverage for many low income women, many will remain uninsured or under-insured," argue those at the WBCC. Those, like DS, who rely on treatment through WWWP will be cut off from services come July 1. If the government refuses to keep the WWWP the way it currently is, then the WBCC suggests that the date for change be postponed. Those at WWWP and WBCC need more time to properly prepare the women under its care for the transition.

Why Not Both?

Early detection for serious illnesses, such as breast cancer, makes all the difference in treatment. According to the WBCC, “Breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can be up to five times more expensive to treat as breast cancers confined to the breast." With that in mind, availability for such screenings is essential for women. Thanks to the ACA, women in all the states, not just Wisconsin, will have access to screenings and tests. And keeping the WWWP will only ensure that women in Wisconsin have access to these routine check-ups. However, it's up to the legislatures and taxpayers to decide if they want to run the program alongside the benefits of the ACA.

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