CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 8 (UPI) — A South Carolina construction worker with breast cancer and no insurance says he’s been denied Medicaid coverage because he’s not a woman.
Raymond Johnson had ignored the lump in his breast, thinking it was a cyst, until the pain prompted a July 4 weekend run to a Charleston emergency room, ABC News reported.
“They thought it had to do with my heart, but I showed them the lump and they sent me to get a biopsy,” Johnson said. “That Tuesday, I was notified I had breast cancer.”
After the shock of the diagnosis came the logical next thought.
“I get paid $9 an hour, I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it,” Johnson said he told his doctors.
As a single, non-disabled man with no children, Johnson couldn’t qualify for South Carolina’s Medicaid program but he was counseled to apply for a program for those diagnosed with breast cancer whose income is 200 percent of the poverty line ($21,780 per year), ABC reported Sunday.
The program was created by Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. And is for women only.
Meanwhile, Johnson went to the Charleston Cancer Center, had a baseball-sized tumor removed, ABC said, and on July 11 met at the center with cancer patient advocate Susan Appelbaum.
“Breast cancer is not exclusive to women, I know there’s not near as many cases [in men] but it’s certainly an issue to think about,” Appelbaum said. “What this 26-year-old man is going to endure, with chemo radiation and surgery, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. This boy is never going to recover financially.”
Johnson has been sent to the not-for-profit Roper Saint Francis Hospital for his treatment where his bills have already added up to $4,050.
Appelbaum’s been in touch with community leaders and congressional lawmakers trying to change the law and the only bright light she’s received has been from the office of Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who’s given her names of local organizations and individuals who might help out Johnson for now, ABC said.