Sen. Geoff Gratwick released the following statement in response to reports that the LePage administration has rejected a $2.5 million grant from the federal government that would have helped pay for colorectal cancer screenings.

The funding was awarded to Maine as part of a competitive grant process after the state applied for the funds. According to MPBN, the LePage administration felt the funding was “not a good use of taxpayer funds.”

“When it comes to Mainers’ health, there is no room for playing politics,” said Sen. Gratwick, a Bangor Democrat and retired doctor. “We know that colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease and we know that prevention and early detection save lives. That is what is important — not this administration’s ideological aversion to accepting federal dollars — and that is what should dictate whether the state accepts this grant. I will continue working every day to make sure Maine patients get the care they deserve.”

Routine screening makes colorectal cancer mostly preventable, but the disease remains the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women combined, according to the Maine Public Health Association. It is the third-leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in Maine.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 610 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and that 240 people will die from the disease in Maine this year.

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