Even as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, ACS CAN will keep working year-round, across the country and with both state and federal lawmakers, to advance the public policies we know will reduce the burden of breast cancer.
Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Funding Restored in Florida
Low-income, underinsured and uninsured women who rely on Florida's breast and cervical screening and treatment program were very recently in danger of losing their safety net with nowhere to turn when they needed lifesaving screenings and care. However, thanks to the powerful impact of volunteer and survivor voices, the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is once again fully funded and available to help those who need it most. The Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP) provides lifesaving cancer screenings to medically underserved women in Florida between the ages of 50 and 64 whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Since first receiving funding in fiscal year 2013, the Mary Brogan BCCEDP has allowed nearly 10,000 women in Florida to be screened. An estimated 340 women are expected to be diagnosed with cancer through the program this year alone, and all of them can gain access to comprehensive treatment services through Florida's Medicaid program. During the first round of budget negotiations this year between the Florida House and Senate, the budget for the Mary Brogan BCCEDP was gutted, leaving only $300,000 in state funding for the program. This translated to a $1.5 million reduction for the program, almost all of the state's $1.8 million investment. ACS CAN volunteers and staff immediately sprang into action to save this critical program. The full-force campaign included social media, outreach to targeted lawmakers, communications tactics and strong support from partner organizations. Targeted lawmakers received 375 emails from ACS CAN volunteers, many of whom wrote in after seeing the campaign messages on Facebook and Twitter using #FundMaryBrogan. The Florida Women's Caucus, comprised of women in the Florida legislature from both sides of the aisle, made funding for the program its number one priority and waged its own campaign with budget chairs and other leadership in the legislature. Frank Brogan, former lieutenant governor of Florida whose late wife is the namesake of the program, had a powerful letter to the editor published in the Miami Herald and subsequently shared widely on social media. ACS CAN's coalition partners, Susan G. Komen and The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, also started their own grassroots campaigns to amplify the message. I'm so proud of all of the work of ACS CAN volunteers, staff, coalition partners and legislative champions. As a result of all of these efforts, we were not only able to restore the cuts to the Mary Brogan program, but the legislature appropriated $2.1 million to the program the highest level of funding yet! More funding translates into more under-served women screened and treated, and that's the true victory for this campaign.