Gov. Bullock Kicks Off Cancer Action Day at the Capitol; Urges Lawmakers to Give 95,000 Montanans Continued Access to Health Care Through Medicaid
#1 Priority for Cancer Patients and Survivors at ACS CAN’s 2019 Cancer Action Day at Capitol
HELENA, MT – March 11, 2019 – Cancer survivors and caregivers with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) thanked Gov. Bullock in person today, March 11, 2019, for his help urging lawmakers to lift the sunset on Medicaid expansion so that it doesn’t expire in July, leaving some 95,000 without access to care.
Gov. Bullock teamed up with ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, to help kick off Cancer Action Day today as well as the Suits and Sneakers Montana Governor’s Hoops Challenge. During the NCAA basketball tournament from March 18 through April 8, Gov. Bullock challenges politicians, state employees and all Montanans to join the Montana fight cancer by wearing sneakers with their suits or donning their favorite collegiate apparel in exchange for a suggested $5 donation to the American Cancer Society.
Sporting sneakers, the governor held a news conference today and went full-court press urging the Legislature to pass House Bill (HB) 425, which reauthorizes Medicaid expansion and told them to resist any legislation that requires work requirements.
“Hardworking, low-income Montanans deserve access to affordable and comprehensive health care coverage and that includes adults, veterans, families with children, pregnant women and those close to retirement,” said Gov. Bullock. “I am proud of the progress Montana is making addressing cancer incidence and mortality in Montana. Medicaid expansion has played a large role in that achievement by helping avert nearly 2,500 cases of colon cancer and providing more than 7,500 breast cancer screenings since January 2016.”
More than 35 volunteers with ACS CAN made the trek from across the state to the State Capitol in Helena today to attend Cancer Action Day, advocating for Medicaid expansion, which is a critical tool in the cancer fight.
Leah Zins, an ACS CAN volunteer cancer advocate who is a wheelchair user due to fighting a cancer in her spine spoke alongside the governor. She explained Medicaid expansion is a lifeline for cancer patients and survivors like herself and that it is difficult for most cancer patients to work during cancer treatment and recovery. “The last thing that should be on the mind of someone who is fighting for their life is to fill out paperwork proving they should not have to work.”
“Medicaid expansion saves lives as well as health care costs because cancer caught early is cancer that is much easier and quicker to treat,” said Zins. “That keeps loved ones alive, saves health care costs directly as well as gets people back to work, reducing sick days and resulting economic impacts—to families and communities.”
The benefits provided through Medicaid are critical in preventing cancer and catching the disease early before it advances and rates of survivorship decrease. In fact, the biggest determining factor whether someone survives after a cancer diagnosis is whether they have health insurance. Studies have shown that after a cancer diagnosis, those without insurance are more likely to die than those with insurance.
“It would be tragic if our state’s leaders stand in the way of providing life-changing and lifesaving coverage to thousands of our friends, family and neighbors. Any delay tactics such as creating bureaucratic red tape and regulations could have unintended, costly consequences,” said ACS CAN Montana Government Relations Director Kristin Page-Nei. “Although work requirement exemptions are often available for those with chronic health conditions, the complexity and frequency of the administrative reporting requirements have led to thousands of people losing their Medicaid coverage – including those who should be exempt.
During ACS CAN Cancer Action Day, the cancer patients and survivors also talked to lawmakers about:
- Passing Senate Bill 21, which restricts youth under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices. Research shows that indoor tanning use before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 59 percent, and Montana has one of the highest melanoma rates in the country.
- Halting HB 481, which would exempt cigar bars from the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, even if the establishments expose children to toxic tobacco smoke.
For more information or to join the Suits and Sneakers Montana Governor’s Hoops Challenge, go to https://tinyurl.com/MTHOOPS.