Statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Government Relations Director Kimberly Hughes
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
LANSING, MI – The unpredictable and dynamic nature of COVID-19 is no match for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers' steadfast commitment. The virus and the elevated risk for those with compromised immune systems became a roadblock for the annual Cancer Action Day, so cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state traveled virtually to the state capitol this week to meet with Michigan's lawmakers.
The ACS CAN volunteer advocates urged lawmakers to pass Oral Chemotherapy Fairness Legislation and increase tobacco control funding by $200,000, so the state's tobacco Quitline operated by the Michigan Department of Health can run year-round.
"Cancer hasn't stopped. So, neither will we. As a cancer caregiver, I let my lawmakers know if we're going to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Michigan, this goal must be top of mind for our legislature," said Jennifer Coston, ACS CAN Michigan state lead ambassador. "By reducing tobacco's toll and improving access to care, we can reduce suffering and death from this disease."
Specifically, the Michigan volunteers asked the legislature to:
Pass Oral Chemotherapy Fairness Legislation
House Bill 4354 would equalize the out-of-pocket cost to the patient for oral chemotherapy and intravenous chemotherapy. Currently, the out-of-pocket costs for oral chemotherapy medications versus intravenous (IV) medications provide a barrier for some Michiganders to use them.
Reducing Big Tobacco's Toll
Increase funding to the Michigan Department of Health's tobacco Quitline by $200,000. Currently, the Quitline line does not receive enough funding to operate for the entire year, leaving Michiganders who need help quitting without support.
"We met with our elected leaders virtually as representatives of each one of the Michiganders who will be diagnosed with cancer this year," said Coston. "When it comes to reducing tobacco's impact on our state and improving access to care, politicians need to put politics aside and reach across the aisle."
Even as we face this pandemic, every day, an estimated 170 Michiganders hear the words "you have cancer" for the first time and 21,260 in the state are expected to die from this devastating disease this year. ACS CAN volunteer advocates call on Michigan's lawmakers to change this by taking steps to make the fight against cancer a priority.
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we're more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.