2018 Tennessee Session Summary

May 1, 2018

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 Tennesseans touched by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. In 2018, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the Tennessee General Assembly in support of the following priorities:

Reducing the Toll of Tobacco

  • Smoke-free Air:  ACS CAN worked to support legislation that creates an option for local authorities to pass smoke-free ordinances, to save lives and reduce the death and disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • While our bill to repeal tobacco preemption did not pass this year, we are committed to a multi-year campaign and will continue to advocate for smoke-free air next session. We will continue to educate citizens and local lawmakers on the importance of local control when dealing with tobacco issues. To date 14 cities or counties across the state have passed resolutions supporting the repeal of tobacco preemption.
  • Access to Tobacco Cessation: ACS CAN advocated to maintain state funding for smoking cessation services for TennCare enrollees to help smokers kick the addiction and reduce downstream tobacco-related health care costs.


Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

  • Breast and Cervical Cancer: ACS CAN advocated to maintain funding for the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, the state breast and cervical cancer screening and early detection program for low-income uninsured and underinsured women administered by the Tennessee Department of Health.


Quality of Life

  • Palliative Care: ACS CAN worked to improve cancer patients’ quality of life by creating a State Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council to identify barriers to the availability of coordinated, supportive care during treatment from the beginning of diagnosis for serious diseases such as cancer.
  • The State Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council will go into effect on July 1 ,2018.
  • Protecting Access to Pain Medication for Cancer Patients: ACS CAN monitored legislative proposals regarding the prescribing of opioid pain medications and advocated for a balanced approach that promotes safe prescribing and dispensing of pain management medication that does not interfere with access to these medicines for the cancer patients and survivors who need them.


Ensuring Access to Quality Care

  • Medicaid: ACS CAN worked to oppose legislation that sought to direct the TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid, to submit a waiver to impose work requirements upon able-bodied working age adult enrollees without dependent children under the age of six.

Although this legislation passed in both chambers, ACS CAN continues to work with state administrators to ensure that cancer patients, survivors, and those at risk for cancer have access to comprehensive, quality health insurance coverage.