Mariah Forster Olson, an ACS CAN Ambassador Constituent Team Lead (ACT Lead), traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to share her story as a childhood cancer survivor and to advocate on behalf of other patients and survivors during the 2019 Childhood Cancer Action Days.
Majority of States Not Measuring Up on Laws to Fight Cancer
We know what needs to be done to save more lives from cancer, and many of those solutions are policy solutions. By encouraging prevention, guaranteeing access to affordable health care, curbing tobacco use and focusing on patients' quality of life lawmakers can help fight cancer. These measures have been proven to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer, a disease that still kills 1,500 people in this country every day. Yet, a new edition of the ACS CAN report How Do You Measure Up? shows that the majority of states are not measuring up on legislative solutions to prevent and fight cancer. The report ranks where states stand on these issues that play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death. It measures seven specific issues:
- Breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding
- Colorectal screening coverage laws
- Smoke-free laws
- Tobacco prevention program funding
- Tobacco taxes
- Tanning bed bans for minors
- Access to palliative care
A color-coded system is used to identify how well a state is doing. Green represents the benchmark position, showing that a state has adopted well-balanced policies and good practices. Yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark. Red shows where states are falling short. This year, no state received greens in more than five of the seven issues, and only Delaware and Vermont reached a benchmark in five. Seven states Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee did not meet the benchmark on any of the seven issues. In most cases, small upfront investments by a state can save millions of dollars in health care costs in the long run. In fact, we know we could prevent roughly half of all cancer deaths in the United States if everyone in America were to stop smoking, get screened for cancer, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Some of the ways states can help are:
- Increasing tobacco taxes: No state comes close to matching the health and economic costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $10.47 per pack.
- Enacting smoke-free laws: No state passed comprehensive smoke-free legislation in the recent legislative session.
- Supporting the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program: Nearly half of all states have reduced state funding for their NBCCEDP, meaning fewer eligible women across the United States have access to lifesaving screenings.
- Passing colorectal cancer screening coverage laws: Only 28 states and DC have laws that ensure private insurance coverage for the full range of colon cancer screenings tests.
- Through our network of cancer survivors and caregivers, volunteers and staff, ACS CAN is working with lawmakers in every state to help pass laws like these that can save lives from cancer.