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President Clinton Signs Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act (dateline October 30, 2000)

On October 24, President Clinton signed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. The legislation provides funding for the screening and treatment of breast and cervical cancers for low-income women through the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

"I am extremely pleased to sign the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000, which invests over $990 million over 10 years in an important new health option for thousands of low-income, uninsured women with breast or cervical cancer," said President Clinton in a statement released by the White House.

The bill allows states to provide low-income women with Medicaid coverage to pay for the cost of breast or cervical cancer treatment. Before the bill was signed, low-income women could receive free mammograms and Pap smears through the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, but they were not eligible for funding if they were diagnosed with cancer as a result of those screenings.

"Women without health insurance are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than those who are insured," said President Clinton in the White House statement. "Not only are they less likely to be screened, but the course of treatment they elect is often affected by their ability to pay for services. This important legislation will expand the limited treatment options now available to low-income, uninsured women with breast cancer who are in the unique situation of learning about their condition through federally sponsored screening programs," said President Clinton.

The chief sponsor of the breast and cervical cancer treatment bill was North Carolina Representative Susan Myrick, who completed treatment for breast cancer last May. Myrick has said that the bill is designed for working women who do not have health insurance.

The bill was originally passed in the House last May but was delayed over its requirement that a warning label about the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV) be placed on condom boxes. HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects both men and women and is a risk factor for cervical cancer. According to the ACOG, many strains of HPV will not lead to cervical cancer and the warning labels on condom boxes could be misleading, inadvertently reducing the use of condoms. The new version of the bill, which was signed by President Clinton, does not include the HPV warning label requirement.

It is estimated that approximately 182,800 new cases of invasive breast cancer (Stages I-IV) will be diagnosed among women in the United States in 2000. Another 39,900 women will be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-invasive form of breast cancer. Approximately 12,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will also be diagnosed in the United States in 2000.

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