Patient Advocates Applaud Governor’s Proposals Alleviating Pennsylvanians’ Medical Debt & Improving Access to Cancer Prevention Services

ACS CAN celebrates 2024-25 Executive Budget proposal, allocating funds to erase medical debt & ensure access to breast & cervical cancer screening, tobacco cessation resources

February 7, 2024

HARRISBURG, PA – FEBRUARY 7, 2024 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) joins patient advocates and public health organizations across the state in applauding Governor Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 Executive Budget, which outlines a $4 million investment to wipe out as much as $400 million in Pennsylvanians’ medical debt and maintains funding for the Pennsylvania Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA BCCEDP) as well as tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Medical debt impacts many people with cancer, their caregivers and their families. In a 2022 national survey of cancer patients and survivors on their experiences with and concerns around medical debt associated with the cost of cancer, 73% reported concern over their ability to pay current or future costs of their care, and 70% noted their worry about incurring medical debt due to their cancer treatment. More recently in 2023, a national poll on the impact of medical debt revealed that over 90% of U.S. adults agree that elected officials should pass policies that protect people with serious illnesses, like cancer, from medical debt and harassment from collection agencies.  

“Cancer patients continue to suffer from a significant financial toll in Pennsylvania. The high cost of cancer care often continues for not only months but even years, which can result in substantial medical debt. No one battling this disease should have to make the impossible decision between life-saving treatment and basic needs. However, this is a reality for far too many who have received a cancer diagnosis,” said Donna Greco, Government Relations Director for ACS CAN in Pennsylvania. “This proposed investment from Governor Shapiro and the state will alleviate the burden of disease felt by so many Pennsylvanians and help chip away at the financial toxicity that pervades the cancer experience. ACS CAN is eager to support this executive proposal along with all other efforts that seek to reduce the impact of medical debt on patients and their families.” 

The Executive Budget proposal also maintained funding for two key programs that help Pennsylvanians detect their cancer early and, in some cases, prevent disease altogether. The proposed funding level for the PA BCCEDP came in at $2.563 million. In 2022, the PA BCCEDP served a total of 8,590 Pennsylvanians, providing diagnostic breast cancer services for 3,323 residents and cervical cancer services for 475. A $2.563 million investment would help build on that progress, providing more Pennsylvanians earning lower incomes with access to lifesaving screenings.

It was also put forward that the Commonwealth continue to protect prevention and cessation program funding, which will continue to help Pennsylvanians fight against Big Tobacco’s efforts to addict generations—young and old—to their products.

“The investments outlined in Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal will help address barriers that persist along the cancer continuum; prioritizing tobacco control funding helps to limit the presence of cancer-causing products in Pennsylvanians lives while ensuring access to early detection enables Pennsylvanians to catch their cancer early and start treatment sooner and alleviating the burden of medical debt makes it so that patients can focus on their fight, finishing treatment without the stress of a sky-high bill,” said Greco. “We hope Governor Shapiro’s colleagues in the Legislature agree and vote in support of these proposal.”

To learn more about ACS CAN’s policy positions, visit



About ACS CAN 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone.  As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it.

Media Contacts

Casey O'Neill
Sr. Regional Media Advocacy Manager