Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, for the past several years much of the conversation about health care in Washington has been a war of words. Today I would like to talk about a hospital in my home State that is seeking to better the lives of the women in its community, not simply with words but with action.
This month, St. Bernard Hospital in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, announced it would provide 150 free mammograms for women. The mammograms will be for women who are over the age of 40 and do not have health insurance.
For those who may not know, Englewood is a neighborhood in Chicago that struggles with high levels of crime and unemployment.
The mammograms will be offered as part of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force's ``Screen to Live'' initiative. The Task Force was created in 2007, after a landmark study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute found that the mortality rate from breast cancer for African American women in Chicago was 68 percent higher than white women.
That startling statistic is not unique to Chicago.
According to the American Cancer Society, African American women nationally have the lowest survival rate from breast cancer of any racial or ethnic group. Not surprisingly, the study found poverty and a lack of health insurance are also associated with lower breast cancer survival.
It is this disparity that led St. Bernard President and CEO, Sister Elizabeth Van Straten, to offer the mammograms. St. Bernard Hospital is not a wealthy hospital. But this gift of 150 free mammograms to the community will save lives. And this partnership between St. Bernard's and the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force should be applauded.
This brings me to the Affordable Care Act.
The lesson to learn from St. Bernard's effort is that preventive care matters. Because survival often hinges on early detection, the Affordable Care Act has made preventive services free. In fact 54 million Americans, including 2.4 million in Illinois have received preventive services from their insurance company at no cost. In 2011, 1.3 million people on Medicare in Illinois received free preventive services. And starting next year, States will receive an increased share from the Federal Government to cover preventive services for people on Medicaid.
This effort to bring preventive services to millions of Americans across the country will no doubt save lives.
I want to acknowledge the outstanding people at St. Bernard's and the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force who made this happen. I am proud to be their Senator.