Free Health Program on Hold Because of Funding

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According to the American Cancer Society, this year close to 41,000 women will die from breast cancer while 3,700 will die from cervical cancer. But the earlier cancer's caught the better chance of survival. That's why 25,000 uninsured women in Michigan have taken advantage of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program or B Triple C P.

But according to T.J. Bucholz of the Michigan Department of Community Health, the $10 million budgeted for 2006 is completely gone. "This is one of the few ways that you can have free care whether it be pap smears or other services. We have more than one million people in this state who are uninsured, and as a result, they're looking for every type of free service possible that the state or another entity might cover."

Maureen O'Higgins of the American Cancer Society says the news is discouraging. But she recommends women who are currently being turned away for pap smears or mammograms take other preventative measures like self-breast examinations. "It's a good idea for you to know your breasts and be able to recognize the differences."

And while new funds will be available beginning in October, Bucholz says there's still some worry. "I know we'll have the money at the beginning of the year for the program. The question is how long do the dollars last? How long will we be able to stretch our dollars through the year?"