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Budget Makes Strides in Fight Against Cancer

Funding in the budget makes every 11- and 12-year-old eligible for the HPV vaccine. (dfuhlert/Pixabay)
Funding in the budget makes every 11- and 12-year-old eligible for the HPV vaccine. (dfuhlert/Pixabay)
October 31, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – The budget passed by the state Legislature takes a significant step toward reducing the incidence of cancer in Connecticut. The $41.3 billion, two-year spending plan includes $18 million to improve access to the vaccine that protects against the human papillomaviruses, the cause of several types of cancer including most cervical cancers.

According to Bryte Johnson, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, that funding makes every 11- and 12-year-old in the state eligible for the vaccine.

"It doesn't mandate that they take it, but it means that it's available to them through the Connecticut immunization program, which is a huge, huge step forward," he explains.

The budget passed both houses of the Legislature with veto-proof majorities.

The budget bill also maintains funding at current levels for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which helps medically underserved women get cancer screenings. Johnson says it also preserves funding for one important anti-tobacco program.

"We're very pleased that the Legislature also continued to provide funding for Medicaid coverage of smoking cessation, which is key because the Medicaid population tends to smoke at about a 50 percent higher rate than the general population," he says.

But while the state has raised the tax on tobacco products an additional 45-cents, Johnson points out that the budget strips out funding for tobacco control programs.

"So what that means is that Connecticut is now going to be tied for the highest tax in the country but also tied for the lowest funding at zero," he laments.

Tobacco-control funding helps prevent young people from starting tobacco use, and promotes programs to help tobacco users quit.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT