Idaho Lawmakers Have Opportunity to Save Lives and Money

August 9, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho is falling short when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer. According to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Idaho didn’t measure up to any of the policy recommendations in the nine issue areas. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“This 16th edition of the report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. One critical area where voters have the power to make a difference for Idahoans immediately is passing Proposition 2 to expand Medicaid,” said ACS CAN Idaho Government Relations Director Luke Cavener. “This year alone in Idaho, 8,450 people will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 3,000 will die from the devastating disease. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment.”

ACS CAN volunteer cancer advocates are busy at work campaigning for passage of a newly-qualified initiative on the November ballot that would close the “health coverage gap” for thousands of Idahoans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford coverage on the state’s health insurance exchange. Idaho is one of 17 states that continues to deny millions of hard-working, low-income residents access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage.

An estimated 62,000 Idahoans would get access to health care if the initiative passes—many for the first time in their lives. Research shows that those without health care coverage are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage when it is costlier to treat, and less likely to survive. States increasing access to health coverage will reduce overall health care costs and save taxpayer dollars.


How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning devices. The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.
A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.

How Idaho Measures Up:

  • Increased Access to Medicaid RED
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding RED
  • Access to Palliative Care RED
  • Pain Policy YELLOW
  • Cigarette Tax Rates RED
  • Smoke-free Laws YELLOW
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding RED
  • Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services YELLOW
  • Indoor Tanning RED

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our state legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent and treat cancer,” said ACS CAN Idaho Grassroots Manager Mary Kemp. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure state residents have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”


View the complete report and details on Idaho’s grades here.