It’s bad enough for anyone to discover they have breast cancer. But just imagine if, when you were diagnosed, you discovered that you wouldn’t be able to get treatment because of something you could do nothing about. That’s the position 26 year-old Raymond Johnson found himself in, when he was told that he was ineligible for a treatment program because he was male.
Raymond was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, and was advised by his doctor to apply for a Medicaid program which covers breast cancer. The Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, a federal law enacted in 2000, uses Medicaid funds to cover treatment for breast cancer or cervical cancer patients who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for the state and federally funded health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
Raymond was ineligible because the treatment is only available to patients who have been diagnosed through specific early detection programs, namely breast cancer screening. The problem is that due to the relatively low incidence of breast cancer amongst men, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services don’t cover routine breast cancer screening for men, meaning they “may not be considered screened” under the treatment coverage program.
In other words, it’s impossible for men to meet this requirement.
Men in Raymond’s position are left to rely on hospitals’ charity care, free or discounted medicine from pharmaceutical companies and other donated services until things change. However, in order to change the eligibility requirements, Congress would need to change the law.”
Teresa Pischner, a “Breast Nurse Navigator” with Roper St. Francis Healthcare where Raymond gets free chemotherapy every two weeks, said a change to the law should be considered.
“It was shortsighted to exclude men who meet the same eligibility requirements”
But Raymond puts it even more simply:
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, so this program shouldn’t discriminate.”
Let’s hope that Congress agrees.
Source : Post and Courier