I want to thank Gov. Mills for striking a blow in the fight against cancer by signing an executive order to increase access to Medicaid for more than 70,000 Mainers. The governor’s decision to implement the will of Maine voters, who decisively approved a ballot measure to increase access to Medicaid in 2017, will help to protect our communities from cancer’s deadly toll.

One of the most important factors in determining whether someone survives a cancer diagnosis is whether that person has health insurance. People without health insurance are less likely to get recommended cancer screenings and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages, when it is costlier to treat and they are less likely to survive.

As a cancer survivor and an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, I have seen this firsthand. Because I had health insurance, I was able to have my cancer diagnosed and treated successfully, surviving my disease. But many Maine families haven’t been as lucky. During her inaugural address, Gov. Mills told the story of her friend Patty, who “died needlessly from breast cancer, a disease that could have been diagnosed early, treated and cured.”

By acting swiftly to increase access to Medicaid, the governor has given more than 70,000 Mainers access to the quality, affordable care they need to help prevent and treat cancer and live a healthy life. I extend my gratitude to her on behalf of cancer survivors, patients and advocates across our state.

Jeff Bennett