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Press Release: Topinka Unveils Women's Health Initiative With Focus on Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis

Location: Chicago, IL

Topinka Unveils Women's Health Initiative With Focus on Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis

CHICAGO, IL - Judy Baar Topinka, the Republican nominee for Governor, today unveiled her women's health initiative, which targets breast cancer and cervical cancer with increased funding, expanded insurance coverage, and a renewed focus on prevention and early diagnosis. Specifically, Topinka will put special emphasis on increasing women's access to additional mammograms and the HPV vaccine.

"Breast cancer already is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, and now with the prevalence of HPV infections, women are facing an increased threat from cervical cancer," said Topinka. "That's why we must focus on prevention and early diagnosis to help women avoid - and survive - these deadly diseases."

As Governor, Topinka will expand insurance coverage for mammograms. In 2005, Illinois required insurance companies to pay for mammograms for women under the age of 40 who have a family history of breast cancer. However, some women require more than one mammogram during a year, but are oftentimes denied coverage by insurance companies for the additional scans. Recognizing the need for early diagnosis, Topinka will guarantee that no woman is denied insurance coverage for any mammogram.

Topinka also will give women more access to a full array of medical options, including genetic testing. Specifically, Topinka will propose a new requirement that insurance companies provide coverage for genetic testing for women with a family history of breast cancer, as well as for all subsequent treatment recommended by physicians. Furthermore, she will prevent insurance companies from using genetic testing information to deny women future health care coverage.

Finally, Topinka pledged to increase state funding for breast cancer research, saying, "Research already has uncovered life-saving information about early detection and treatment, so we must make increased funding and support for new research a top priority."

Topinka also proposed an HPV vaccination plan as a preventative measure against cervical cancer caused by the virus. Nationally, the American Cancer Society estimates 9,710 women will be diagnosed this year with cervical cancer, and 3,700 will die from the disease. Up to 70% of those cases could be prevented by the new HPV vaccine recently approved by the FDA.

Under the Topinka plan, women and parents of minor girls will have the option to choose whether or not they want the vaccine. Once the decision is made, Topinka will ensure that all eligible women will have access to the vaccine by requiring that insurance companies provide full coverage for HPV vaccinations. Furthermore, Topinka will continue Medicaid funding for HPV vaccinations.

"Protecting the health and safety of our citizens should be the first goal for state government," said Topinka. "With all the advances in preventative medicine for women, we have a responsibility to ensure that all women have access to the necessary testing, research, and vaccines that can prevent deadly diseases like breast cancer and cervical cancer."

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