Monday, December 19, 2011

Who Paid For Your Cancer Screen Rebecca?

Just before the November 2010 State election, Lt. Governor candidate, Rebecca Kleefisch revealed she had been treated for cancer.

She reported that during the campaign she did not feel well and went to her doctor. It is worth noting, she returned to her doctor two more times before a blood screen showed abnormalities that resulted in a cancer diagnosis.

Three visits before she knew what was wrong with her.

Kleefisch had surgery in which a large tumor was removed and is reportedly cancer free. Kleefisch won her election and has gone on to be recalled by the people of Wisconsin...a happy ending all around.

Kleefisch at the time (as well as now) received Wisconsin State employee health insurance of which she pays $85 per month. We pay the remaining $1722.00 as taxpayers. Whatever the cost of her treatment, it was surely a fraction of what it would have been if she had not been treated promptly and had she not had the resources (State Health Insurance) to return to her physician until she had an answer. Had the cancer spread or had she deferred her treatment, the costs would have skyrocketed and the outcome may not have been a happy one.

Kleefisch's own life story illustrates why access to health care works and why it is also financially beneficial.

People who are gravely ill cost a lot of money to treat. People who are gravely ill and have no money or insurance, cost us a lot of money.

Take mammograms or pap smears. They are a cheap and easy way to detect problems in women's health long before they become life threatening. Cervical cancer used to be a major killer of women, because of pap tests it no longer is - not because it no longer exists, but because we detect before it becomes serious.

On the other hand, in third world countries where people are poor and screenings don't exist, women are dying at a rate we don't see here...or at least not in Caledonia.

Low income women aged 45 to 64 years old in Wisconsin have used the Wisconsin Well Women program for 17 years to get free cancer screenings and service referrals if their tests show something concerning. It is run by the Department of Health who administer contracts with screening providers.

There is no question that it has saved the lives of many, many women. Not only because their illnesses were detected and then treated, but because their illness was detected AT ALL within a group of people who traditionally defer health care because of income...until they get so sick they walk in to an ER and receive last ditch, costly treatment with poor outcomes.

In four Wisconsin counties, that sole provider of cancer screening and referral is Planned Parenthood.

Last week, Scott Walker and his invisible but culpable Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch confirmed the State Department of Health was ending it's contract with Planned Parenthood. Not one other provider was cut from the program.

There is little doubt the move is politically motivated leaving more than a 1000 women in those counties without the educational and lifesaving services they provide.

As a women who's own life was literally saved by prompt and accessible health care services, Rebecca Kleefisch should be ashamed of herself.