Susan Harbin, Tracy Jacim: Time to increase funding for cancer early detection in Florida
The delegation is pushing for more availability of cancer screenings.

MRI machine and screens
The time to act is now.

Cancer doesn’t play favorites; it affects us all.

Florida has the second highest cancer burden in the nation with breast cancer being the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in the state. Cancer is also the second leading cause of death in Florida. We need bold action to turn this grim situation around.

You may not realize it, but cancer is a political issue. Laws regulate and support access to care and health care systems. Third-party payers are subject to state and federal regulations. In fact, every aspect of breast cancer is touched by public policy. Currently, Florida legislators have the opportunity to help ensure all women in the state have access to lifesaving cancer screenings like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings and any necessary follow-up care.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to supporting research and promoting the world-class care Florida offers cancer patients. In 2022, Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature passed historic funding for Florida’s top cancer centers to continue providing world-class care to cancer patients with a $37 million increase over the current budget. This session, Gov. DeSantis has recommended tripling state funding to $60 million for the Florida Cancer Innovation Fund and continuing to fund several other important programs, including the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.

While research is important and necessary, early detection efforts are key to saving and extending the lives of those facing a diagnosis today. Any delay can mean a woman won’t seek care until the cancer has spread beyond the breast, making it up to five times more expensive and much harder to successfully treat.

Gov. DeSantis has recommended the state nearly double its allocation to the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to $3 million annually in recurring funding. The Mary Brogan Program is a federal-state partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health, providing lifesaving cancer screenings for women between the ages of 50-64 with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Communities who are marginalized experience higher mortality rates of cancer, primarily because of limited access to health care. This significant obstacle prevents many from getting routine screenings, even though we know screenings can be lifesaving. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99%. However, the unfortunate reality is that two-thirds of uninsured women in Florida are not staying current with their breast cancer screenings, putting them at higher risk of later diagnoses and worse outcomes.

The Mary Brogan Program is proven to work: a state analysis indicates each dollar invested in screenings yields more than double in cost savings. However, at current funding levels, the Mary Brogan Program serves less than 7.4% of eligible women. Increasing funding will provide more women with access to lifesaving early detection services. While the primary focus is extending lifesaving services to more women, early cancer detection also results in more cost-effective treatment.

State legislators are also reviewing bills that would eliminate patient out-of-pocket costs for supplemental breast imaging after an abnormal screening. We urge lawmakers to support expanded access to this important imaging without having to worry about high out-of-pocket costs.

As we work to ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation applaud Gov. DeSantis’ recommendation and urge the Florida Legislature to support increased funding for the Mary Brogan Program to ensure access to innovative, affordable diagnostic tools and treatments. The time to act is now.


Susan Harbin is the Senior Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Florida. Tracy Jacim is the president & CEO of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation. ACS CAN and the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation are uniting to increase access to cancer care and help Floridians detect, treat and survive cancer.

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    January 8, 2024 at 7:12 pm

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  • Cancer kills

    January 8, 2024 at 10:01 pm

    This is only an issue for them because Kkkasey got breast cancer otherwise the DeathSantis family would not care. They don’t believe in medical care or scientific research. Where is the support for the screening and health preventive for the rest of the Cancers. Lung cancer screening is low while it can definitely save lives

Comments are closed.


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