Changes to Well Woman Program Not Necessarily for the Better
Madison – Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley expressed disappointment in both the process and substance of changes being made to the Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). “The Well Woman Program is a literal life saver for women in need across the state,” said Bewley. “Unfortunately, DHS has created so much confusion by their actions that women understandably believe that the program is being eliminated.”
Today there are WWWP coordinators in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Starting tomorrow those responsibilities will be transferred to 13 regional coordinators. And the number of participating health care providers has been slashed from over 1000 to about 400. Program training was promised for new providers and regional coordinators, but has not taken place.
“Tomorrow, women across the state will wake up to find out that the agencies and health care providers they have come to rely on for mammograms, cervical cancer and other life-saving health screenings can no longer serve them,” Bewley noted. “Instead of turning to someone in their own community, these women will be forced to travel up to 100 miles or more.”
Such draconian cuts might makes sense if the program faced a budgetary shortfall, but that isn’t the case. Funding from the Federal Government through the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Wisconsin have been stable. The members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee were so impressed with the program that they voted to put an additional $100,000 dollars in the WWWP budget.
“I am especially troubled by the lack of consideration given to the many concerns that the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition and other stakeholders have aired for many months,” said Bewley. “With a program that involves so many individually moving parts, communication is key to ensure success and the DHS has failed to effectively communicate the details of this transition to all the parties involved.”
Although the WWWP isn’t going away, it will be much more difficult for women to access the services provided under the program. “Sad news,” noted Bewley, “considering the proud history of this critical program which has screened over 70,000 of our neighbors and friends.”