A Charleston, S.C. man is fighting a battle most men never imagine that they might endure.
Raymond Johnson, 26, a construction worker, was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago, after he checked himself into the emergency room because of a throbbing pain from a lump in his chest.
On Friday, the department called the federal policy "discriminatory," and for at least the second time in two years is calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to change it, Charleston Post Courier reports.
The uninsured 26-year-old was reportedly stunned when the doctors delivered his diagnosis - breast cancer - and shortly after was denied coverage through a state program, Medicaid, which provides medical treatment for breast cancer patients merely because he’s a man.
"We are again urging CMS to reconsider," the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. "It's a very clear example of how overly rigid federal regulations don't serve the interests of the people we're supposed to be helping."
The federal department's guidelines for the breast and cervical treatment program say women must be diagnosed through "early detection" programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another federal agency.
In South Carolina, such screening is offered to uninsured women between the ages of 47 and 64 who meet certain income guidelines.
But, not to men.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, a federal law enacted in 2000, uses Medicaid funds to cover treatment for breast cancer or cervical cancer patients who otherwise wouldn't qualify for the state and federally funded health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
Yet, in South Carolina, 16 men with breast cancer diagnoses have applied for coverage through the Medicaid breast and cervical cancer program since 2007 and have been turned down. Three of them met all the eligibility requirements but were denied because they were men, Jeff Stensland, Health and Human Services spokesman, told the South Carolina paper.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 2,140 new cases of breast cancer in men are diagnosed annually in the U.S. While roughly 1,180 women are enrolled in the treatment coverage program, according to the department's most recent figures.