2019 Georgia Session Summary
Victory in the fight against cancer requires bold new public policies that promote cancer prevention, early detection of cancer, and expand access to quality, affordable health care. Lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of Georgia residents touched by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. In 2019, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the Georgia General Assembly in support of the following priorities:
Reducing the Toll of Tobacco
- Tobacco Tax Increase: ACS CAN worked with Rep. Ron Stevens to introduce HB 731 to increase tobacco taxes by $1. 50 per pack of cigarettes. This will be our major legislative push for the 2020 legislative session.
Sen. Randy Robertson introduced SR 435 which is a non-binding resolution urging the state to increase it’s tobacco taxes. Sen. Robertson is a freshman legislator and lost his father several years ago to lung cancer.
- Preemption: ACS CAN successfully altered legislation (SB 45) that would have allowed horse racing and gambling facilities to operate in Georgia and not be subject to local ordinances on tobacco to remove the preemption language. SB 45 did not pass either legislative body.
We were also able to change language in SB 144. This legislation would have allowed tobacco products to be sold through special event permits outside of brick and mortar locations. ACS CAN added language that limited the number of days in a year such permits would be allowed by a permit holder and were working with the Department of Revenue to come up with language that would make sure that such permits would not be awarded that would violate local smoke-free ordinances. The legislation ultimately died.
Cancer Prevention and Early Detection (Budget Items)
- Breast and Cervical Cancer: ACS CAN advocated to maintain funding for the state Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP). The BCCP program provides breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and patient navigation services to women across the state. ACS CAN is proud to announce that funding has been maintained at $3,292,575 for BCCP.
- Cancer Research, Screening, Detection, and Treatment: ACS CAN worked to increase funding for local cancer screening, treatment, patient navigation programs through regional cancer coalitions. State funds were increase by $300,000 from last year.
Quality of Life
- Step Therapy: ACS CAN worked with coalition partners to pass HB 63 to provide access to a clear, convenient and expeditious process to a step therapy exception.
Healthy Eating and Active Living Environments (HEALE)
- ACS CAN supported policymakers to plan, implement, and evaluate HEALE priority issues, such as increasing the quantity and improving the quality of physical education in K-12 schools, supplemented by additional school-based physical activity. ACS CAN supported HB 83, which makes schools establish daily recess of 30 minutes or longer for students in kindergarten through Grade 5. HB 83 passed the legislature.
Ensuring Access to Quality Care
- Medicaid: ACS CAN closely monitored SB 106 that would allow the state to work on Medicaid waivers for expansion up to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. Governor Kemp has already signed SB 106 into law. ACS CAN will seek to educate members of the Governor’s direct staff, the Department of Insurance and the Georgia Department of Community Health on best practices and work to ensure the best outcome for those impacted by cancer.
- Prescription Drug Benefit Plans: (Budget Item) ACS CAN worked to increase funds for gene therapy drug coverage for Medicaid patients. Around $18.1 million dollars was included in the budget for both the Aged, Blind and Disabled and low-income Medicaid populations.
- Transportation: ACS CAN worked with National Ride Share partners that give free rides to treatment for cancer patients on legislation that could have potentially decreased the number of rides that are given to patients. On the last day of the session there was 4 pieces of legislation that included this language. ACS CAN educated legislators about the role these companies play in getting patients to and from their treatments. None of the legislation ultimately passed this year.
For more information, contact: Andy Freeman Georgia Government Relations Director ACS CAN
[email protected]cer.org 404-582-6122
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network • www.fightcancer.org/Georgia
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard.