Florida First Lady Supports Cancer Funding
- It has been a week since Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis finished chemotherapy for breast cancer, but she is already using her platform to advocate for cancer research.
- During a recent visit to Jacksonville, she highlighted a proposed plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis drafted that allocates $100 million of Florida’s state budget toward cancer centers.
- Florida’s lower-than-average rank on the health system performance scale is concerning as it is one of the country’s fastest-growing states in terms of population.
“I feel great,” she said during a roundtable discussion on Thursday at the Nemours Specialty Care Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.Read More
“We believe that that (money) would not only set Florida apart, but obviously it would lead to a lot of innovation, new research and a lot of care for a lot of families who unfortunately have been touched by cancer,” DeSantis says.
Florida’s Cancer Care Centers Are Below Average
Florida’s health care system as a whole could largely benefit from an infusion of funding, something Casey DeSantis is advocating for. Here is why:
In September 2020, The Commonwealth Fund — a U.S. non-profit and non-partisan foundation that seeks to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, quality and efficiency — released its 2020 Scorecard on State Health System Performance. The scorecard ranks each of the 50 states from best to worst overall health system performance, including access, affordability, prevention and treatment.
Florida ranks 41st overall. (The 2020 Scorecard rankings reflect data from 2018 — pre-pandemic. More up-to-date data has not yet been made available.)
U.S. News & World Report released a similar ranking that evaluates the best states for health care — categories included access to care, quality of care and the overall health of the population, according to the ranking site. Overall, Florida landed smack in the middle — number 25. It should be noted, however, that the state still ranked 41 overall in health care access, but ranked 18 and 13 in health care quality and public health, respectively.
WalletHub is a personal finance website that also released a ranking of states’ health care systems. This year, it ranked Florida 38th overall — better than The Commonwealth Fund, but 13 points lower than U.S. News & World Report’s ranking. In terms of access, WalletHub ranked Florida 44, three points lower than U.S. News & World Report, and 30 in terms of cost.
Florida’s lower-than-average rank on the health system performance scale is concerning as it is one of the country’s fastest-growing states in terms of population. The state’s population has swelled by another 3 million people in the last 10 years, according to 2020 Census Data. The data is further alarming as nearly 21% of the state’s 21.5 million residents are over the age of 65, and it is known that a person’s risk of developing cancer increases with age.
That is why SurvivorNet experts advise that when seeking cancer treatment, it is vitally important to seek care at a comprehensive cancer center, when and if possible.
What is the difference between a cancer center and a comprehensive cancer center? A National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center means that a center has met NCI standards for cancer prevention, clinical services or research, but not all three. If a facility is an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, that means it meets NCI standards in all three categories.
Casey DeSantis’ Breast Cancer Battle
Gov. DeSantis announced in October 2021 that his wife, Casey DeSantis, 41, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And in December, Casey spoke publicly for the first time about her diagnosis, revealing some new details about the timeline of her diagnosis.
She told a crowd gathered at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., that she did not experience any symptoms initially, but a vague sense of uneasiness drove her to schedule a visit with her OB-GYN.
Her doctor did not see any cause for concern, but Casey could not shake her suspicion. One month later, she called again to request a mammogram. This time, her concerns were confirmed — she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Casey DeSantis began chemotherapy treatment shortly after, and just last week, the governor and first lady announced that she had finished her breast cancer treatment.
“She ran that gauntlet, she’s doing well, and we look forward to having more good news over the next few weeks and months,” the governor said at the time, adding that Casey “fought very hard” and “responded very well” to her treatment regimen.
While this is great news for the DeSantis family, the governor acknowledged that their battle is not over just yet; there is “more stuff to do,” he said, but the “milestone” is definitely worth celebrating.