By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich touted Medicaid expansion and new funding for breast- and cervical-cancer screenings Friday during a ceremonial bill signing at the Statehouse.
The governor also urged women to seek out screenings for the disease.
“There are many women that currently have insurance that don’t get their mammograms and their pap smears, their cervical check,” Kasich said. “If you have it, go get it. You’re going to save your life, and if you have it, they can treat it.”
The governor actually signed House Bill 112 into law in July, and it took effect earlier this month, creating a new check-off on income-tax forms that allows filers to donate all or part of their refunds to a program that provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and related services to Ohio women.
“Seventy thousand women since 1994 [when the program was created] have been served by this worthwhile cause,” said Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, a primary sponsor of the law change. “And we came up with a way that we can generate hundreds of thousands of new dollars.”
Pam Mascio, representing the Komen for Cure Northeast Ohio affiliate, added the extra funding will provide “life-saving screenings” to women in the state.
“Ohio is fourth in breast-cancer mortality in the country, even though we are only 32nd in incidence,” she said.
The check-off is expected to generate more than $150,000 for screenings, and Kasich announced that the state would provide a three-to-one match for contributions, up to $1 million.
That extra money and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility will help ensure women can get the health screenings they need, particularly those who cannot afford them, the governor said.
“We have these poor women that are not able to get the screening because they don’t have the money,” he said. “If they show up and they get care, then they get some bill collector chasing them, so they’d just rather not do it. … Expanding coverage is going to mean that a lot of these ladies are going to get help.”