Funding for many mass screening programs for low-income and uninsured populations provides resources for screening tests, yet only rarely does it provide coverage for necessary follow-up diagnostic and treatment services. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), a federally funded initiative that provides cancer screening to low-income uninsured and under-insured women, covers some diagnostic follow-up tests and no treatment services. We conducted in-depth case studies of seven state programs participating in the NBCCEDP to investigate the strategies and approaches being used to secure diagnostic and treatment services. The results suggest that the program relies on a patchwork of resources—at state and local levels—to provide diagnostic and treatment services. This includes a number of components of local safety nets, all of which are unstable and have uncertain futures. Public health disease-screening initiatives need to reconsider the feasibility of continued reliance on case-by-case appeals to the local safety net for diagnostic follow-up and treatment services.

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