2016-03-11 / Letters

Officials encouraged to take action

To the editor:

Regarding the “Working Together” piece discussing the “Deadline 2020” program tackling breast cancer in the Feb. 26 Sentry, I commend Gov. Paul LePage for his comment, “Raising awareness is such an important step in reaching our ultimate goal, which is to end breast cancer. The more we can all do together to share information and hope, the more Mainers we can help, and the more lives we can save.”

I feel compelled to share how Gov. LePage can put real action behind his words in ways the National Breast Cancer Coalition, creators of the “Deadline 2020” initiative, suggest. In the NBCC 2011 Progress Report Executive Summary under the section entitled “Public Policy Plays a Significant Role in All Aspects of Breast Cancer,” the authors write: “Breast cancer is a political issue. The level of government funding for research, the expansion and regulation of access to heath care, the regulatory process for drug approval, and health insurance are just some of the issues that are determined through the political process…” “…[P]olicies range from the substantive, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act, which expanded access to care for underserved, uninsured women…”

The NBCC also helped craft language in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in accordance with a “Framework for a Health Care System Guaranteeing Access to Quality Health Care for All” developed by the Board of Directors in 2007. Obamacare includes provisions that expand Medicaid benefits to eligible low-income women which the American Cancer Society describe as “Making proven cancer screenings and other preventive care available at no cost to people in new plans, in Medicare, or who are newly eligible for Medicaid…”

Gov. LePage and the Republican caucus can show a strong commitment to saving the lives of low-income, under-served women in Maine by expanding Medicaid through Obamacare while advancing the stated designs of this worthwhile program. Such a worthwhile program addressing breast cancer, which the governor admits effects “just about everyone,” is certainly deserving of a public endorsement; committed action is even better.

Stephen Demetriou South Portland

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