Cuomo’s budget proposal threatens vital programs

In March 2012, my husband lost his job of over 20 years and we simply could not afford the high monthly cost of COBRA coverage so we decided to forego any health coverage. At my annual wellness exam that June, a nurse overheard that I no longer had insurance and handed me the brochure of a local provider who would provide annual pap smears and mammograms for uninsured women. I called and from that moment my life was forever changed. I received a mammogram the following week and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to recent estimates, 110,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2012 (lung, breast, colorectal, prostate) and 34,000 died. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal threatens to cut lifesaving programs in New York that work to prevent cancer deaths. The Cancer Services Program provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, pap tests, pelvic examinations, colorectal cancer screening, surgical consultation and diagnostic testing to people without health coverage. Early screening and detection of cancer saves lives, increases the chances of successful treatment and saves New York in overall medical costs. The Tobacco Control Program works to educate our children not to use tobacco and to help smokers quit. The program has lost 50 percent of its funding over the past few years, despite the state reaping $2 billion annually from tobacco revenues.

The Cancer Services Program helped me every step of the way – without them I would still be walking around with the cancer growing inside of me. The State Legislature must ensure that these important programs are bolstered, not slashed, by rejecting the proposed budgetary reorganization. If these programs have their budget cut as a result of the governor’s plan, it will mean one thing – more devastation caused by cancer.

Bonnie Arnone