Last week, I joined cancer advocates from across the state to urge the General Assembly to make cancer a top priority for Illinois. 

On behalf of the more than 10,000 Illinois women who will be diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer this year, I asked lawmakers to guarantee adequate funding and access to screenings through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP). 

IBCCP is a statewide program that provides free mammograms and Pap tests to uninsured women aged 35 to 64. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently proposed cutting funding to this program by more than 70 percent, which will result in a 50 percent reduction in the number of women served through IBCCP. 

But the bad news didn’t end there. The governor also proposed eliminating eligibility for comprehensive treatment services through Medicaid, leaving some women screened through IBCCP without access to affordable health-care coverage. 

Recently, the House of Representatives countered the governor’s proposal by voting to give $12 million to IBCCP. This is great news for the thousands of women who won’t have access to breast and cervical cancer screenings this year.

I’m especially grateful to Rep. Michael Zalewski for voting “yes” on this measure, which now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Sen. Steven Landek’s office took time to meet with me last week, and they showed great support for this issue. 

It’s my hope he will follow the House’s lead and vote to protect the lives of women across our state.

Judy Rospenda