Cancer Funding: The Right to Live
The “Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000” gave states the option to provide full Medicaid coverage to women who are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, and as of 2004, all states have accepted and completed the guidelines for this cancer funding option.
Over the last several years, changes have occurred in particular states to allow men with breast cancer to also receive federally funded Medicaid. However, prostrate cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), leukemia (blood cancer), thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, and the other most common types of cancer in the U.S. (see: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/commoncancers) are not federally funded from the moment of diagnosis.
Medicaid coverage is possible for some cancer patients, but only if they are already in the low-income bracket and meet low financial asset requirements. Medicare is eventually an option for people with cancer, but only after 24 months of being declared disabled and receiving SSDI do people with brain, prostrate, and other cancers qualify for Medicare.
Being declared disabled is never a simple or fast process, and it requires a person to be so debilitated that he or she can no longer work. Even in the best case scenario, what happens during those two years while a person with cancer is waiting to be medically covered?
There are many organizations that help people who have cancer, but why does the federal government only fund female parts? What exactly does this say about the U.S.? That women’s breasts and lower regions are the most important parts of all adult human bodies, and are the only parts worth saving? In 2002, President Bush even signed-off on making sure that Native American female parts would be federally funded.
One could suggest that government agents had reproduction in mind when enacting these cancer funding health care mandates, but if that were so, why wasn’t prostrate cancer covered? Perhaps all of the “pink awareness” has increased sales of jewelry, bras, and hosts of other consumer products that have in-turn made the financial backers of certain politicians very happy.
The right-wing might argue that notions of inclusive cancer coverage flirt with socialism, but the alternative to a socialist perspective in this case is short-sighted at best (and ocular cancers, of course, aren’t covered by Medicaid). If we, as a society, endorse federal funding that blatantly discounts blood and brains, we are also endorsing a very limited version of reality.