Cancer-fighting programs are facing more than $6.6 million in budget cuts due to the governor’s proposed budget and the federal sequester, Gannett’s Haley Viccaro reports.
“The governor’s proposed a budget, which proposes to change drastically the way public health programs are funded,” said Blair Horner, vice president for advocacy for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey. “It takes 89 programs and sticks them into six areas, and then he cuts all of the funding by 10 percent.”
Chronic disease programs outlined in the proposed budget includes tobacco and cancer services grouped together with Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis programs. Horner said the state’s cuts to these programs would reduce the volume of screenings and advertising.
The potential cuts would decrease individuals’ access to breast, cervical and colorectal screening programs and tobacco control programs statewide, a representative from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute said.
Federal budget cuts due to sequestration, which went into effect March 1, will decrease public health spending by the Centers of Disease Control by five percent, which would include $600,000 in cuts for programs in New York, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
“This sequestration was a strategy that was supposed to make it painful for politicians to go forward with, but it is really causing a lot of collateral damage and paying for public health programs all over the country and in our state, as well,” said Michael Burgess, state advocacy director for the Cancer Society.
Tobacco control programs help to prevent young adults from smoking and provide services to curb individuals’ smoking habits. Screening programs that help the uninsured at current funding levels meets the needs of 20 percent of the population, Horner said.
Horner said the state raised about $2.5 billion in total tobacco revenue last year as a result of taxes and tobacco settlements. Smoking cessation programs have been cut from $85 million in 2008 to about $41 million this year.
“The 10 percent reduction could easily turn into a 10 percent cut across the board,” Horner said. “Frankly, if this passes and becomes law, on April 1, the money will have to stop for the existing programs, unless they choose to extend it.”