2019 Session Summary

In 2019, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the Maryland General Assembly in support of the following priorities:

Reducing the Toll of Tobacco

  • Smoke-free Air:  ACS CAN monitored Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Act law to ensure it would not be weakened. This landmark legislation was enacted in 2008 and prohibits smoking in almost all Maryland workplaces and enclosed public spaces, including bars and restaurants.
  • Premium Cigar Tax Exemption: ACS CAN successfully defeated legislation (SB 826 and HB 1291) in which would have allowed for an exemption for premium cigars from taxation. HB 1291 was withdrawn by the Sponsor and SB 826 died in committee.
  • Child Resistant Packaging: ACS CAN supports evidenced-based tobacco control strategies and laws intended to restrict youth commercial access to tobacco products. ACS CAN successfully defeated legislation (HB 1185 and SB 708) put forth by members of the Vapor Technology Association that would set standards for labeling and child resistant packaging of electronic smoking devices. ACS CAN did not support this legislation, as child proof packaging is already required by FDA and nothing in the legislation was best practice beyond what is currently in law. HB 1185 was withdrawn by the Sponsor and SB 708 was held in committee.
  • Tobacco 21: ACS CAN led the measure to increase age of sale for all tobacco products to 21. The legislation (HB 1169) passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The legislation would take effect on October 1, 2019.


Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

  • Breast and Cervical Cancer: ACS CAN advocated to maintain funding for the state Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Program (BCCDT) and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP). The BCCDT program, administered by the Maryland Department of Health, provides breast and cervical cancer treatment services to low-income uninsured and underinsured women. 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 $13.2 million for BCCP and that Governor Hogan allocated an additional $6 million dollars split between FY ‘20 and FY ‘21 ($3 million per year) to the BCCDT program.
  • Cancer Research, Screening, Detection, and Treatment: ACS CAN worked to maintain funding for local cancer screening, treatment, patient navigation programs and research at Maryland’s renowned academic medical centers (Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland). Funding was increased in the budget from $24.9 million to $25 million for FY ’20.


Quality of Life

  • Protecting Access to Pain Medication for Cancer Patients: ACS CAN monitored legislative proposals regarding the prescribing of opioid pain medications to ensure access to pain relief for cancer patients.


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 110, in which establishes a goal that each public elementary school student be provided a daily program of developmentally appropriate moderate to vigorous physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week, including recess and at least 90 minutes per week of physical education. However, ACS CAN only supported the legislation as a measure to supplement quality physical education, not supplant it. While this bill was a first step, more works needed to be done to reach the State’s goals of being ensuring kids are physical fit and getting the physical activity and physical education they need on a regular basis. Maryland schools should require 150 minutes per week of quality physical education in elementary schools with additional opportunities for physical activity. This legislation passed the House and Senate with amendments, however, failed after differences were not reconciled between both Chambers.

Ensuring Access to Quality Care

  • Medicaid: ACS CAN worked to preserve access to health care coverage provided to thousands of low-income state residents through the state’s Medicaid program.  The health care coverage provided by Medicaid affords women screened and diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer access to comprehensive health care coverage through the end of their treatment and is has been critical in the fight against cancer for more than 2 million cancer patients and survivors since 2014. The FY ‘20 Maryland budget includes nearly $11.5 billion for Maryland’s Medicaid Program.
  • Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Care Insurance Program: ACS CAN supported legislation (HB 814 and SB 802) that allows for an uninsured Marylander to start the enrollment process by simply checking a box on their state income tax return. That single step will let the state’s health care exchange determine eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance, based on information in the tax return. Those who qualify for Medicaid will be enrolled automatically, and the exchange will reach out to people who qualify for private coverage and help them sign up for a plan that works for their family. Both bills passed and are awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill would take effect on June 1, 2019.
  • Health Care Facilities: ACS CAN advocated for HB 592 and SB 669, in which alters requirements related to the discharge or transfer of a resident from a comprehensive or extended care facility. The bill (1) specifies additional resident rights; (2) expands the required contents of a discharge or transfer form; (3) requires the development of a specified post discharge plan; and (4) places additional restrictions on the discharge of a resident without informed consent. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to request that a court impose a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation of specified provisions related to the transfer or discharge of a resident, the required notice of discharge or transfer, or an involuntary discharge. The bill also expands the available relief following nonpayment by a resident to include a circuit court injunction compelling a resident to pursue with due diligence a Medicaid application, and it makes other conforming, technical, stylistic, and clarifying changes. HB 592 passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. It’s cross-file SB 669 was held in committee. The bill would take effect on October 1, 2019.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: ACS CAN supported legislation (SB 415 and HB 1388) to require each carrier of long-term care insurance to provide each insured an annual notice, in writing or electronically, containing the insured’s policy form number and the carrier’s customer service telephone number. This legislation adds transparency in the insurance market and allows for cancer patients to make informed decisions. The bill passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. It would take effect on October 1, 2019.   
  • Prescription Drug Benefit Plans: ACS CAN advocated for HB 490 prescription drug coverage for current State retirees, active State employees (except for members of the Optional Retirement Plan) who have vested in their respective State pension plans by December 31, 2019, and the spouses, dependent children, or surviving spouses and surviving dependent children of eligible retirees. Unfortunately, this legislation died in committee despite our advocacy.

Skin Cancer Prevention

  • Indoor Tanning Devices: ACS CAN led the effort to prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices by those under the age of 18. The bills (HB 124 and SB 299) passed and await the Governor’s signature. The bills would take effect on October 1, 2019.

Cancer Research Funding

  • Research Appropriations: ACS CAN advocate to protect funding for Maryland’s Academic Medical Centers. Funding for FY ’20 has remained level.

For more information, contact: Jocelyn Collins, MD and DC Government Relations Director ACS CAN  

[email protected]   301-254-0072  

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.