Cancer Patients and Survivors Rally Legislators Virtually Due to COVID-19

Technology-Enabled American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Volunteers to Continue Efforts to Tackle Cancer

February 25, 2021

NASHVILLE, TN – The unpredictable and dynamic nature of COVID-19 is no match for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) volunteers’ steadfast commitment. Because of the virus and the elevated risk for those with compromised immune systems, cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers from across the state traveled virtually to the state capitol this week to meet with Tennessee lawmakers. 

“Cancer hasn’t stopped. So, neither will we. As a cancer survivor, I let my lawmakers know if we’re going to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Tennessee, this goal must be top of mind for our legislature,” said Michael Holtz, ACS CAN Tennessee state lead ambassador. “By reducing tobacco’s toll and improving access to care, we can reduce suffering and death from this disease.”

Specifically, the Tennessee volunteers asked the legislature to:

Increase Funding to the State’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program: support the governor’s proposed increase in Tennessee’s Tobacco Prevention and Control program. Increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation is a vital first step to protect Tennessee youth from a lifetime of tobacco addiction and help more tobacco users quit. The program implements evidence-based strategies to reduce tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death nationwide. 

Support Step Therapy Legislation: support legislation that will limit the use of step therapy, also known as “fail first” policies, when it comes to access to medication. Currently, insurance companies may require a cancer patient to try and fail on a lower‐cost drug before they cover the drug prescribed by the patient’s doctor, even if the doctor feels the more expensive treatment is more effective.

Transparency for the TennCare Waiver II Implementation: support efforts to create transparency when implementing the TennCare III waiver through the FY 2022 budget and Government Operations Rule Review Committee process to hold the Division of TennCare accountable for guarantees that have been made to protect, preserve and promote the health of TennCare enrollees.

Even as we face this pandemic, an estimated 115 Tennesseans hear the words “you have cancer” every day. Those gathered this week called on Tennessee lawmakers to change this by taking steps to make the fight against cancer a priority.


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

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Michelle Zimmerman
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager