Raymond Johnson, 26, applied to a Medicaid program created by the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000, which allows states to fund cancer screenings and treatment. To qualify, patients must be uninsured or underinsured and meet certain income requirements. South Carolina began allocating funds to the Department of Health and Human Services for this purpose in 2001, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Coverage for treatment was expanded to include women between 18 and 64 in 2005.
Johnson fit all the requirements, except his gender. He’s currently on his second round of chemotherapy, which costs about $10,000 for each treatment, and is paying for it out of pocket.
“Cancer doesn't discriminate, so this program shouldn't discriminate," Johnson told the Post and Courier. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services agrees.
“We believe that the federal position on this issue is discriminatory, and we are again urging the federal Medicaid officials to reconsider,” Tony Keck, the department’s director, said in a statement. “This is a very clear example of how overly-rigid federal regulations don't serve the interests of the people we're supposed to be helping.”
About 2,140 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society, with 450 dying from the disease. Men make up about 1 percent of all breast cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.
According to the Post and Courier, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid said Congress would have to pass a law to change the policy. And now a petition started on Change.org is asking CMS to make that happen.
Watch an ABC News 4 interview with Johnson below.