Breast cancer survivors and advocates gathered March 15 at the State Capitol to show their support for the Committed to the Cure Breast Cancer license plate bill, which ensures that funds from the sale of breast cancer license plates will actually go to breast cancer treatment and prevention. House Bill 1164 is making its way through the House.
Rep. Dianne Primavera brought this legislation for two reasons. First, to ensure funds raised from the plate go to breast cancer treatment and prevention. Second, to make the funds raised from sales go directly toward expanding access to life-saving screening services, allowing underserved women to get the cancer treatment they need regardless of where they are diagnosed.
Breast cancer survivors and advocates showed their outrage that it has been four years since 'Commit to a Cure' started showing up on license plates, yet zero money raised has gone to breast cancer treatment and prevention. Instead, the money goes to the Highway Users Trust Fund.
"This 'pink-washing' has got to stop!" said Rep. Primavera, sponsor of the bill. "How many of you were shocked to learn that when you bought this license plate, not one cent went to breast cancer treatment and prevention? This bill will do what is boldly written on the license plate: Commit to a Cure!"
HB 1164 will create a fund to expand eligibility for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, which provides treatment for low- to moderate-income women who are uninsured or underinsured; but only if a woman is diagnosed through one of the state's Women Wellness Connection (WWC) providers. The legislation will add a surcharge of $25 on all new or renewed breast cancer license plates. Currently, WWC is reaching less than 20 percent of eligible women in Colorado. If a woman is diagnosed by a clinic or physician that is not a WWC provider, she is denied care through the Treatment Act. This leaves hundreds of women without access to life saving breast and cervical cancer treatment simply because of where they were screened.
Rep. Primavera continued "This bill is the first step in educating women to expand early detection and early treatment. It is a shame that a woman can be denied coverage because she walked into the wrong place to be screened. By creating on-going funding for cancer care, we will save lives."
The new surcharge will fund future expansion of the Treatment Act. Evidence suggests that many more individuals would purchase the breast cancer plate if some funding goes towards breast cancer.
"It is time we close the gap. I am a living witness of falling through the loophole and being denied treatment," said Jeanette Oxelson, a Denver resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer after weeks of trying to get care. "It is time that Colorado is put on a path towards expanding the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program so that when women like me take charge of their health, they aren't penalized for it. Rep. Primavera's bill will start us on this path."