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Governor, Breast Cancer Awareness Advocates Differ On Funding Approach

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner used a live Facebook video session Wednesday to tout a new law he signed this summer requiring insurance companies and Medicaid to cover 3-D mammograms.

Immediately after the governor's stream, the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force held one of its own.

Rauner, speaking from the Simmons Cancer Institute in Springfield during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also congratulated a nurse practitioner for being cancer-free for one year. She stood beside the governor to answer questions.

"My own mother-in-law has been diagnosed twice. She's a breast cancer survivor and she's doing wonderfully well. Bless her," Rauner said.

But advocates were quick to mention that Rauner's administration cut funding to state-paid breast- and cervical-cancer screenings for uninsured women.

The governor said that program is important but added that uninsured women now can get screened under the Affordable Care Act.

"The other critical issue is we have not been funding our health and human services properly for many years, we have not been funding our schools properly for many years," he said. "I can't find a time when we've had a balanced budget. We're in an unsustainable situation. That's a tragedy for health care services and for our schools and our teachers."

Rauner then repeated his frequent calls for redistricting and reducing workers' compensation costs, which he says will improve the economy.

Following the governor's stream, the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force expressed appreciation for the subject of his presentation.

"We went to say thank you to the governor for using his platform for raising awareness," said associate director Teena Francois-Blue.  

But, she added, "While it's important for us to balance the budget, and to do reform, all of these things … A balanced budget should not come at the cost of a woman's life."

Francois-Blue says some women, such as non-citizens , are not covered by the ACA.