2017 Hawaii State Legislative Debrief

May 15, 2017

Throughout the 2017 state legislative session, ACS CAN Hawaii-Pacific has been monitoring, gathering support, and testifying on legislation that would aid cancer patients. Our legislative recap of this session is below:

HPV Legislation

SB 514 has been transmitted to the Governor’s office. As you are aware, this legislation allows pharmacists to provide the human papillomavirus (HPV), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), meningococcal, or influenza vaccine to individuals between the age of 11 to 17 with a valid prescription.

HPV causes over 90 percent of cervical cancers, 69 percent of vulvar cancers, 75 percent of vaginal cancers, 63 percent of penile cancers, 91 percent of anal cancer, and 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers. We supported this legislation as it would help increase vaccination uptake, ultimately reducing cancer incidence and mortality in the state of Hawaii. We feel that this is a great win for our advocacy organization and more importantly, Hawaii residents who may be spared from the burden caused by the pain and suffering of cancer.

Cigar Tax Cap

This session, we opposed legislation that would lower the tax on any tobacco products including legislation to place a cap on the maximum amount of tobacco taxes for large cigars at 50-cents. That bill is now dead, and it is no small part due to the over 80 advocates that acted in opposing this piece of legislation this session.

Colorectal Cancer Workgroup

In Hawaii, it is estimated that 660 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year, and 240 will die from the disease. ACS CAN Hawaii-Pacific recently helped to pass HCR129 a concurrent resolution that allows for the formation of a workgroup including ACS, ACS CAN and the Department of Health to convene meetings to develop a plan to increase colorectal cancer screening rates.

ACS CAN Hawaii-Pacific will be working with ACS Hawaii-Pacific and the Department of Health through the summer and fall to help convene community partners. These meetings will eventually result in a report that will be presented to the state legislature.

Opioid Therapy Regulations

This year, the legislature acted to regulate opioids and benzodiazepines due to concerns of abuse of these substances. This entailed limiting initial concurrent prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines to a maximum of seven consecutive days, except for treatment of specified conditions.

While ACS CAN recognized the importance of addressing the issue of opioid addiction, we also wanted to ensure that the Legislature consideration the unique nature of pain associated with cancer separately from non-cancer opioid prescriptions. We thus ensured that exemptions for those with cancer or the pain caused by cancer were included in the legislation.