ACS CAN Minnesota 2019 Legislative Priorities
Victory in the fight against cancer requires bold new public policies that promote prevention and early detection of cancer, increase research, and expand access to quality, affordable health care. Lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of Minnesotans touched by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. In 2018, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) will work with the Minnesota Legislature in support of the following priorities:
- Support continued funding for Minnesota’s safety net health insurance programs. Access to quality health care directly affects people’s ability to prevent, detect, and survive cancer. Continued funding for the Health Care Access Fund, which funds MinnesotaCare and people covered under the Medicaid expansion, will help ensure access to quality, affordable health care for more Minnesotans.
- Dedicate state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation services from a sustainable funding source. Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for cancer. Last year, Minnesota collected more than $840 million in tobacco taxes and settlement fees, but less than one percent ($5 million) was spent on tobacco prevention, and none was dedicated to cessation services. Funded by the tobacco settlement, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, which provides QUITPLAN Services in Minnesota to help people quit and most of the funding for tobacco prevention in Minnesota, will end by 2022 and QUITPLAN Services will end in March of 2020. A long-term, sustainable solution must be in place before it sunsets to continue to make strides against cancer in Minnesota. We support sustainable funding for smoking cessation and tobacco prevention in Minnesota.
- Raise the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Use of tobacco products by youth remains unacceptably high with new users starting every day. Ninety-five (95) percent of adults who smoke started before the age of 21. Fourteen Minnesota cities have already raised their age of sale for tobacco products to 21. We support raising the minimum age for sale of all tobacco products to age 21 with strong retailer compliance and active enforcement as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce youth initiation.
- Modernize the Minnesota Health Records Act. ACS CAN supports efforts to align the MHRA with federal laws and regulations including HIPAA, HITECH Act, and the Omnibus Privacy Rule to allow for the clinically appropriate release of health information for purposes like treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.
- Incorporate e-cigarettes into the Freedom to Breathe law. The aerosol created by e-cigarettes release nicotine and other toxins into the air and allowing their use in workplaces that have otherwise been smoke-free since 2008 undermines the enforcement of the law. ACS CAN supports incorporating electronic cigarettes into the state’s smoke-free law, the Freedom to Breathe Act.
- Protect funding for programs that prevent and detect cancer. The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) is helping Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives and contain health care costs by engaging communities in evidence-based strategies to reduce obesity and tobacco use. Minnesota’s Sage Program is a public-private partnership which provides breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment services to low-income Minnesotans without health insurance. ACS CAN opposes any potential budget cuts that would reduce or eliminate these programs.
- Support continued funding for the Minnesota Palliative Care Advisory Council. Building evidence consistently demonstrates the benefits of palliative care in improving quality of life and addressing the harmful effects of pain, symptoms and emotional distress among people with serious illnesses. ACS CAN supports legislation to continue funding for the existing Minnesota Palliative Care Advisory Council, which works to identify barriers to coordinated, supportive care during treatment of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.