Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers will vote Monday night on a new way for people to donate to cancer prevention – on their income tax return.
House Bill 164, sponsored by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, would add a check-off on the state tax return to allow taxpayers to donate some or all of their refunds to provide free or reduced-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings to low-income women without insurance.
All of the donated money would go to the state Division of Public Health's Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, or BCCCP, which provides screenings in all 100 North Carolina counties.
Dollar told the House Health Committee on Wednesday that 3,160 women in North Carolina die every year from breast cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the state.
"When detected early, 98 percent of all women survive breast cancer," Dollar said. "But when it’s detected late, only 27 percent of women will actually survive. So, three out of four women will die without early detection of breast cancer. Early detection saves lives, there’s no question about it."
Dollar said there are funds available for women making up to 250 percent of federal poverty level to help treat breast cancer if it's found, but "the only way in is to be screened through BCCCP."
A screening costs about $255.
"You're talking about about a pool of working women in North Carolina, probably some 300,000," Dollar said. "These are people who are not otherwise Medicaid eligible."
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, asked whether the donation program would replace funding the state currently contributes to the BCCCP program – just over $1.6 million in the current fiscal year.
"It’s designed to be over and above our appropriation," Dollar replied.
"I would prefer that we would be appropriating money through our regular appropriations process," Insko responded.
The proposal passed the House Health Committee on a unanimous voice vote and is expected to easily pass the House before heading to the Senate.