New Advisory Panel will Address Disparities in Breast Cancer Rates

CHICAGO - October 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a new initiative to fight breast cancer that will improve access to mammograms and treatment. The effort will be overseen by a new advisory panel charged with raising the quality of care for all women, focusing specifically on strategies to reduce the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality.

"Breast cancer is a deadly disease that affects women across Illinois," said Governor Quinn. "We are doing everything we can to make sure more women have access to lifesaving screenings and treatments. The Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board consists of highly-qualified medical experts and health care advocates who will work hard to fight this disease."

The members of the newly formed Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board include :

  • Dr. David Ansell, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for Rush University Medical Center and Associate Provost for Medical Affairs, Rush University.
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Sister Sheila Lyne, CEO and President, Mercy Hospital
  • Eileen Knightly, Director, Mercy Hospital Breast Care Center
  • Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force
  • Dr. Pamela Ganschow, Director, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program
  • Dr. Elizabeth Marcus, Chair, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Division of Breast Oncology
  • Stephani Huston Cox, Director of Patient Services, Planned Parenthood Springfield Area
  • Linda Maricle, Executive Director, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Peoria
  • Donna Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Access Community Health Network
  • Elizabeth S.A. Patton, Administrator, East Side Health District
  • Salim Al Nurridin, Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois
  • Vicki Vaughn, Director, St. Mary's Hospital

The mission of the Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board is to work with the Medicaid Program and IBCCP to identify gaps in screening and diagnostic mammogram services throughout the state; expand the use of digital mammography; recommend common quality standards; identify best practices for effective outreach to reduce racial disparities; and monitor the pilot projects.

The new initiative is a joint project by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). It will include an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate beginning in 2011 for screening providers who commit to high-quality service and data sharing on detection rates with the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium. Medicaid spending for the program will qualify for federal matching funds.

"I am very glad to be working with Governor Quinn, our partners at IDPH and our board of experts to improve access to-and the quality of-breast cancer screening and treatment for women throughout our state," said HFS Director Julie Hamos.

The initiative will include three new pilot projects to assist women who have breast cancer and are being treated through either the Medicaid Program for low-income women or the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings and services to uninsured eligible women in Illinois. The pilot projects will test different approaches to best assist these women in navigating the complex system of breast cancer health care and treatment.

"Early detection can help save lives, and mammography remains the most effective means available to detect cancer in its earliest stages," said IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. "We look forward to working with the new board to help ensure all women have access to quality mammography and other breast cancer services."

As part of the initiative, the state will ramp up its educational outreach programs about early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Women over the age of 40 will be informed of access to free annual mammograms - whether they are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, have private insurance coverage or are uninsured. Under the new federal Affordable Care Act all new and renewed private health insurance policies will offer free annual mammograms.


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