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FOR RELEASE: February 8, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

New Women’s Cancer Treatment Program Should Save Lives

A new breast and cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment program has the potential to save the lives of Oklahoma women who might otherwise not have their cancers diagnosed or treated.

Women between the ages of 19 and 65, who are low income and uninsured, may now be eligible for the Oklahoma Cares Medicaid Program, which will cover the costs for diagnosis and treatment of breast and cervical cancer for women who meet eligibility criteria.

The program was a result of legislation passed by the Oklahoma Legislature last year creating the “Belle Maxine Hilliard Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Revolving Fund”. The legislature appropriated funds to develop a program for Medicaid eligibility and services for eligible women in need of breast or cervical cancer treatment. The legislature supplemented this effort by appropriating additional monies for the actual administration of breast and cervical cancer treatment services beginning effective Jan. 1, 2005.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation have all collaborated to develop and refine the program.

Under a previously established program, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP), eligible women were screened for breast or cervical cancer through certified screeners offered through the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s “Take Charge!” program, and through certified screeners provided by the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation. However, resources were not in place to help women seek treatment services that were recommended as a result of their screening.

Women who have an abnormal breast or cervical cancer examination should first ask their health care provider if he or she is a certified screening provider under any of the three BCCEDP programs. Once an eligible woman is screened by a certified provider and found to be in need of treatment, she will then complete an application for the treatment program. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services will determine if the applicant is eligible for basic Medicaid. If she is not, her application will be processed through the Oklahoma Cares program.

The new Oklahoma Cares program helps ensure that women who are found in need of treatment through the BCCEDP screening process can then receive further diagnosis and treatment services that will be paid by Medicaid.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority will provide services for diagnosis and treatment beyond the initial screening. Women who are found not to have cancer or precancerous conditions will lose their Medicaid eligibility. If a woman does receive a diagnosis of cancer or a precancerous condition, she will be enrolled in SoonerCare, the state’s partially capitated, managed care Medicaid program. She will choose a primary provider and receive needed specialty referrals through that provider.

Additional services will include care management, transportation through SoonerRide, and access to the SoonerCare Helpline and the Nurse Advice Line. Eligible women will continue to receive services through SoonerCare until their provider determines they no longer need treatment for their cancer.

Women who have already had an abnormal screening result for breast or cervical cancer, or who have already been diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, or who have a precancerous condition, should call this toll-free number, 866-550-5585, to see if they quality for the Oklahoma Cares program. They can also call the Cherokee Nation toll free at 877-458-4491, or 918-458-4491, or the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma at 580-362-1039, ext. 228, to get information about applying for the program.

To help expand the certified screening program, the Oklahoma State Department of Health “Take Charge!” program is seeking providers (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives) to join the network of certified screeners. Providers interested in more information about joining this network should contact Cheryl M. (Charlie) Jones, Take Charge! Program Manager, by calling toll-free 866-550-5585, or email charlieJ@health.state.ok.us .

Providers who are interested in signing a Medicaid contract to provide breast and cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment services should contact the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Provider Enrollment at 405-522-6205 or 800-522-0114, select option 5.

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