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ACS CAN reacts to FDA's new menu labeling rule

As of May 7, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  started requiring restaurants with 20 or more outlets to post the calorie counts and other nutritional information on their menus. The rule applies to a broad range of eating establishments, including chain restaurants, supermarket cafes, convenience stores, superstores, and movie theaters.

Nutrition labeling provisions were included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act and scheduled to take effect in 2017, but the ruling was delayed due to FDA negotiations with the food industry and various legislative efforts to limit consumers' access to nutrition information on menus. 

The change will be most evident at mid-size and regional restaurants and grocery stores, since most of the country's largest chains began displaying calorie counts after Congress passed the menu-labeling law in 2010.

A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:

"With one in five cancer cases being linked to obesity, physical inactivity, or poor nutrition, ACS CAN has supported national enactment of menu labeling requirements since its original inclusion in the Affordable Care Act. We are pleased that the finalized rule will take effect after years of extraordinary delay and efforts by some politicians and certain retail establishment interests to undermine the health benefits of menu labeling.

"Arming consumers with more information about what they're ordering when eating away from home is a good thing. Final implementation of menu labeling requirements by the FDA will help ensure people know more about what they are about to eat and can empower them to make healthier dietary choices. Additionally, menu labeling requirements can encourage food retailers to offer and promote healthier meal options.

"ACS CAN believes providing people with useful information will help them make healthy food and beverage choices when eating out that can ultimately reduce their cancer risk. This is a substantial step forward as we work to support policies that will promote public health and reduce suffering and death from cancer. We call on Commissioner Gottlieb and the FDA to implement and enforce this rule in the strongest way possible."

In an interview with The Washington Post, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said "we know that information on menu labels actually inspires consumers to make smarter choices about overall consumption . . .  Studies show a reduction of anywhere from 30 to 50 calories a day, on average, for consumers who are eating out -- and consumers eat about one-third of their meals outside the home. So over the course of a year, that could translate into three to five less pounds gained, just from the reductions that you achieved through providing more information on menu labels." 

He said he also believes that "menu labeling will inspire competition among restaurants to produce options that are more healthful." 

Gottlieb said that for the first year, the FDA will work with restaurants that fail to comply. After that, penalties will be assessed.

  • Poll shows majority of voters want Congress to increase cancer research funding

    American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers were on Capitol Hill May 15 with more than 100 other cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, physicians, and researchers representing more than 50 cancer organizations to share poll results that show overwhelming public support for continued robust and sustained federal investment in cancer research, and urge lawmakers to make fighting cancer a top national priority. 

    These advocates united as part of the 19th annual One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) lobby day to ask their legislators to fund cancer research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as cancer prevention funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    A poll recently commissioned by OVAC, found that nearly 92 percent of voters say federal medical research funding, including for cancer, is "extremely" or "very" important. Seventy-three percent say they support Congress' decision to increase NIH funding by $3 billion in the FY 2018 omnibus bill, and nearly 70 percent say they favor continued significant budget increases for NIH. 

    Additionally, 68 percent of all voters—including 47 percent of Republican voters—oppose significant NIH budget cuts proposed by the president, and 60 percent of respondents say Congress should continue to increase investments in medical research even in light of increasing national debt.

    Additionally, 87 percent of voters say federal funding for state and local cancer prevention programs through the CDC is "extremely" or "very" important, and 60 percent think CDC funding should be increased.

    "Cancer doesn't care how old you are, where you live, or what political party you support," said Caroline Powers, ACS CAN federal relations director and OVAC chair. "ACS CAN volunteers are uniting with cancer advocates from across the country to urge lawmakers to put medical research ahead of politics and make cancer a national priority by guaranteeing strong and sustained funding that will spur discovery and eventually eliminate death and suffering from this disease."

    OVAC volunteers took part in scheduled meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Together, OVAC volunteers urged Congress to capitalize on the promise of recent NIH investments, including the 21st Century Cures Act, and support new research and maintain momentum in ongoing discoveries. Specifically, they asked Congress to:

    • Provide at least $39.3 billion for the NIH in FY 19, including funding provided from the 21st Century Cures Act
    • Support $6.375 billion for the NCI
    • Support $517 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cancer programs

    "For decades, research supported by the NIH and the NCI has played a key role in virtually every major cancer prevention, detection and treatment discovery," Caroline said. "While recent funding increases for the agencies has begun to reverse course after years of flat or reduced funding, funding is still far below where it should be when accounting for the increased cost of doing research. Congress should seize this important opportunity to fully get cancer progress back on track."

    More than 1.7 million people will be newly diagnosed with the cancer in America this year and cancer is expected to kill more than 600,000 people in this country –  1,650 today.  Annual cancer incidence rates are projected to increase by 31 percent over the next decade, growing to 2.1 million people diagnosed with cancer in 2025.


  • ACS CAN Monthly Advocacy Update


    New ACS CAN Report Details Common Patient Barriers to Cancer Clinical Trial Enrollment

    On April 11, ACS CAN released a new report which examines the most common patient barriers to cancer clinical trial enrollment. The report, Barriers to Patient Enrollment in Therapeutic Clinical Trials for Cancer, detailed that only about one in four (27 percent) patients has access to clinical trials where they are being treated; yet if asked to enroll in an available trial, more than half of eligible patients typically agree to do so.

    The report is meant to serve as a resource to inform discussion and actions aimed at addressing the barriers preventing patient participation in clinical trials and is accompanied by a set of 23 consensus recommendations endorsed by 15 organizations. These organizations range from patient advocacy groups, provider societies, medical institutions and the research industry.

    ACS CAN, Other Patient Advocacy Groups Share Patient Perspective During Meeting with HHS Deputy Secretary  

    On April 17, George Blough, West Virginia ACS CAN volunteer and Keysha Brooks-Coley, ACS CAN vice president of federal advocacy and strategic alliances, joined other patient advocacy groups at a meeting with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. Other participants included representatives and patients from, the American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Health Council.  

    Representatives from the organizations were invited to share their perspectives on public policy issues on which HHS is actively working which include the rising cost of prescription drugs, affordability of health insurance coverage, value-based healthcare and the nation's opioid crisis. This was an important opportunity to articulate key cancer public policy goals for our mission and to engage with the administration.  

    ACS CAN Files Comments on Short-Term Proposed Rule

    On April 20,  ACS CAN filed comments in response to the Administration's proposed rule that would allow for the proliferation of short-term, limited-duration (STLD) plans. Currently short-term plans are only available for up to three months and are intended to fill brief gaps in coverage. The proposed rule would extend the availability of these plans up to 364 days and provide an option for indefinite renewability, allowing them to function like permanent health insurance without having to follow most of the permanent plan rules.  In our comments we expressed significant concern with extending the duration of STLD policies because these products are exempt from important consumer protections, such as prohibitions on lifetime and annual dollar limits, limits on the use of pre-existing condition exclusions, and the prohibition on medical underwriting. These protections are key to ensuring that individuals with cancer (including those in active treatment and survivors) have access to quality health care needed to treat their disease. Without these protections, individuals could find themselves enrolled in policies that fail to provide coverage of medically necessary services. Our comment letter urged the Administration to withdraw the proposed rule unless the needs of the patient community have been met.  

    ACS CAN also led efforts to engage other organizations to weigh in with HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and joined more than 100 organizations representing patients, providers, and consumers to express concern with the proposed rule.

    State & Local Activities

    • In Mississippi, an ACS CAN-supported medication-synchronization bill passed, benefitting patients by allowing them to synchronize all their prescriptions to be filled on the same date each month, eliminating the need for multiple visits to a pharmacy and improve a patients' ability to adhere to their required medications. This measure was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant.
    • Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed the ACS CAN-supported biosimilars bill. This new law allows for biosimilar substitution at pharmacies and puts in place appropriate notification and safety requirements.
    • ACS CAN has endorsed a Utah ballot measure to expand access to health care through Medicaid. Signature collection has been completed and the measure has qualified for the November ballot.


    Court Orders Tobacco Companies to Place Product Warnings on Packaging and Websites

    Under a court order issued May 1 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, tobacco companies must soon publish statements on their websites by June 18 and on cigarette package inserts by Nov. 21 that tell the American public the truth about their deadly and addictive products.

    The court order is another important step in holding the tobacco companies accountable for decades of deception and wrongdoing and ensuring the public knows the facts about the deadly consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke. The case began when the Department of Justice sued the tobacco industry for violations of fraud and racketeering laws in 1999. The American Cancer Society and other public health groups intervened and became parties to the case in 2005. In 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a landmark judgment that industry had violated civil racketeering laws and lied to the American public for decades about the health effects of smoking and their marketing to kids. This order further implements the "corrective statements" the tobacco companies were first ordered to make by Judge Kessler in that judgement. Last November, the tobacco companies began disseminating the corrective statement through advertisements in newspapers and on the major television networks during primetime. The newspaper ads ended in March and the television ads will end in November.

    State & Local Activities

    • The City of Los Altos, California passed a smoke-free ordinance that includes outdoor dining, service areas, public events and city-owned vehicles.
    • Voters in the Town of Basalt, Colorado passed a ballot measure to impose a local tax on cigarettes of $2 per pack, and a tax on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, of 40 percent of the retail price. The resulting revenue is dedicated to local health, addiction and tobacco prevention needs. Also, the Basalt Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance restricting the sale of tobacco products to adults age 21 and over.
    • ACS CAN helped defeat an effort in Connecticut which would have added a tobacco surcharge option to health insurance plans sold on the state exchange in 2019.
    • The City of Buhl, Idaho implemented a smoke-free parks ordinance.
    • In Illinois, with passage of ordinances in Peoria and Aurora in the past month, 23 municipalities with a total population of more than 4.4 million now have ordinances prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
    • Nebraska's governor, Pete Ricketts, signed a budget package with an increased appropriation of $500,000 for the state's tobacco control program.
    • New York's Rockland County has become the 19th state locality to pass legislation raising the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21. Once this measure goes into effect in July, nearly 67 percent of the state's population will be covered by Tobacco 21 laws.
    • The Akron, Ohio City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
    • In Oklahoma, ACS CAN defeated a legislative attempt to send a resolution to the voters that would have redirected tobacco settlement payments away from cancer prevention, tobacco cessation, and cancer research programs as originally intended and enacted by a state-wide vote in 2000. 


    Childhood Cancer Advocates Urge More Research Funding

    On April 24, ACS CAN staff and volunteers joined fellow members of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer for its seventh annual Childhood Cancer Action Day on Capitol Hill. The annual event serves to elevate pediatric cancer as a priority issue for Congress.

    Advocates met with their representatives in Congress, shared personal stories and urged passage of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act. TheSTAR Act, the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever introduced to Congress, would expand funding for childhood cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The bill would also better track childhood cancer rates and work to improve the quality of life for survivors.

    In March, the U.S. Senate passed the measure and ACS CAN and our partners are working to ensure the U.S. House votes to pass the legislation as well.

    In late 2016 the American Cancer Society and the Alliance for Childhood Cancer released a joint report "Translating Discovery into Cures for Children with Cancer: Childhood Cancer Research Landscape Report." The report marked the first time that statistics and information about childhood cancers were brought together with a critical analysis of challenges and opportunities related to pediatric cancer prevention and treatment.

    State & Local Activities

    With Gov. Kay Ivey's signature of Alabama's 2019 budget, ACS CAN successfully secured a $116,500 funding increase for the state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This brings a total of $500,000 allocated to the program serving low-income uninsured and underinsured women


    Activities in the States

    • The governor of Kansas, Jeff Colyer, signed an ACS CAN-supported palliative care bill into law. The new law establishes an advisory council to bring together experts – including health care providers and patients – to address barriers to palliative care and to identify innovative solutions. It also creates a consumer and professional information program to help families and health care providers understand the benefits and opportunities available through palliative care. 
    • The South Carolina Legislature has sent an ACS CAN-supported palliative care bill to Gov. Henry McMaster's desk. The measure creates a task force to evaluate the state's needs and offer solutions to improve quality of life. 

  • ACS CAN praises CDC's new round of powerful "Tips from Former Smokers" ads

    ​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released new advertisements as part of its ongoing and highly successful “Tips from Former Smokers” national campaign. 

    Fifteen and 30-second ads will run for 25-weeks beginning April 23, appearing nationally on cable and network TV and radio. Thirty-seven markets that have higher rates of cigarette smoking will have additional airings and advertisements for increased awareness. Ads also will be placed on billboards, online, and in magazines and newspapers. Spanish-language ads will run on Hispanic TV and digital networks, and Asian-language newspaper ads will run in cities with large Asian populations. The ads are designed to give viewers hard-hitting reminders that cigarette smoking causes immediate damage to your body, which can lead to long-term health problems.

    One of the new ads features Christine, a woman who had to have half of her jaw removed because of oral cancer. Other ads feature a man who suffered heart disease and lung cancer, and a woman compelled to quit smoking after her mother died of lung cancer. You can watch them here.

    The following is a statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

    “We commend the CDC for continuing their ‘Tips from Former Smokers’ campaign with the introduction of these new, compelling advertisements. This historic advertising campaign has a proven track record of encouraging people to quit tobacco and helping prevent a lifetime of addiction for the next generation.

    “These powerful ads are based on strong evidence regarding which anti-smoking messages work best, and have proven to be a valuable tool in the fight against this deadly addiction. Estimates provided by the CDC show that at least 500,000 smokers have quit tobacco for good as a result of the Tips campaign.

    “While we continue to make progress in helping adults quit tobacco, there is still more work to do. ACS CAN is calling on Congress and the administration to prioritize efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives by increasing funding for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH).

    “Additionally, federal, state, and local lawmakers should continue to support a comprehensive approach to tobacco control with comprehensive smoke-free laws, regular and significant increases in tobacco taxes, and funding for evidence-based prevention and cessation programs, including effective mass-media campaigns. These interventions are proven to be the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, which ultimately reduces death and suffering from tobacco-related diseases.”

  • Leading health and medical groups urge immediate FDA action to address rising youth use of Juul e-cigarettes

    Six leading public health and medical organizations on April 18 urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take strong and immediate action to address the dramatic rise in teen use of Juul electronic cigarettes, which has been widely reported by media and educators across the United States.

    The groups sending a letter to the FDA are the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

    Several members of Congress are also calling on the FDA to take action on Juul. House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) recently wrote to the FDA, and 11 senators led by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote to the FDA and Juul's manufacturer today.

    Introduced in 2015, Juul looks like a flash drive and can be charged on the USB port of a computer, comes in sweet flavors including mango and fruit medley, and delivers a strong dose of nicotine. The manufacturer, Juul Labs, claims that each Juul cartridge of nicotine liquid (called a "Juul pod") contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

    Extensive media reports and educators have documented the skyrocketing popularity of Juul among middle and high school students across the U.S., as well as on college campuses. Educators report widespread use of Juul in school bathrooms, hallways and even classrooms, as reflected in recent news headlines: "Schools and Parents Fight a Juul E-Cigarette Epidemic" (The Wall Street Journal); "I Can't Stop: Schools Struggle with Vaping Explosion" (The New York Times); "JUUL Smoking Craze Getting Teens Hooked on High Levels of Nicotine, Health Officials Fear" (The Washington Times); "Juuling: The most widespread phenomenon you've never heard of" (The Boston Globe); and "Juuling is the new teen vaping fad taking over school bathrooms" (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

    Juul sales have grown dramatically and now make up more than half the e-cigarette market in convenience stores and other mass-market retailers, according to industry analysts.

    "Juul is putting kids at risk of nicotine addiction and threatens to undermine decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use," the health groups wrote to the FDA. "The FDA is responsible for regulating tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and it unacceptable that the FDA has yet to take action to address the skyrocketing youth use of Juul."

    The health groups' letter comes as new research conducted by Truth Initiative, and published today in the journal Tobacco Control, reveals that while many young people are aware of Juul, 63 percent of current Juul users aged 15-24 did not know the product always contains nicotine. In addition, 25 percent of survey respondents who recognized Juul reported that use of the product is called "Juuling," indicating they may not realize it is an e-cigarette or tobacco product.

    The health and medical groups urged the FDA to take specific steps including, but not limited to:

    • Immediately ordering the removal of any Juul flavors, including the popular "mango" and "cool cucumber" flavors, which were introduced after August 8, 2016, without first seeking required FDA review and authorization. Such review is required for new or changed products under the FDA's 2016 rule extending the agency's authority to e-cigarettes. According to Juul's own social media posts, the "mango" and "cool cucumber" flavors were not introduced until 2017.
    • Ordering the removal of Juul-like e-cigarette products that have recently been introduced by other manufacturers without required FDA review.
    • Suspending internet sales of Juul until stronger rules are established to prevent sales to kids and step up enforcement to prevent underage sales by brick-and-mortar retailers.
    • Reversing the FDA's 2017 decision that allows e-cigarettes that were on the market as of August 8, 2016, to stay on the market until at least 2022 without undergoing review by the FDA. Health groups last month filed suit challenging the FDA's delay, arguing it is unlawful and harms public health by leaving on the market products that appeal to kids.

    "If Juul fails to take the steps necessary to curtail youth use before the start of the next school year in fall 2018, the FDA should take strong, additional enforcement action up to and including suspension of Juul sales until it does so," the letter further states.

    A 2016 Surgeon General's report concluded that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. A January 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded, "There is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults."

  • ACS CAN: Monthly Advocacy Update


    FY 18 Budget Affirms Medical Research and Cancer Prevention as Priorities

    On March 23, Congress passed and the president signed a Fiscal Year 18 federal budget which includes; a $3 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the largest such funding increase in 15 years; a $275 million increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI); a $10 million increase for cancer prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and first-time funding of $15 million for the Oncology Center of Excellence at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    The budget also increases funding for the CDC Office of Smoking and Health (OSH) and preserves the FDA's full regulatory authority over tobacco products. Funding to stabilize the individual insurance markets and reduce patient premiums was not included in the House budget.

    Just three short years ago, ACS CAN launched the One Degree campaign to urge Congress to increase medical research funding at the NIH by $6 billion over two years, including $1 billion for cancer research at NCI. Passage of the FY18 budget made our campaign goal a reality with an historic increase for research funding.

    Senate Passes Childhood Cancer Bill

    On March 22, the Senate passed the Childhood Cancer STAR Act by unanimous consent. This bipartisan bill will advance pediatric cancer research and increase transparency and expertise for pediatric cancer research at the NIH. Additionally, the legislation expands research into the long-term side effects of childhood cancer and its treatments.

    From here, the STAR Act moves on to the House, where it already has 362 bipartisan cosponsors and strong support from the Energy and Commerce Committee. ACS CAN volunteers have been very active on this issue by engaging with their lawmakers through meetings, correspondence and social media.

    ACS CAN Hosts Capitol Hill Briefing on Cancer Statistics

    On March 14, ACS CAN hosted a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to an audience of over 70 staffers and colleagues to present the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts and Figures report for 2018. The briefing was sponsored by Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, co-chair of the House Cancer Caucus, who also spoke about the importance of the work of the Society and the need for increases in federal funding for cancer research and prevention programs.

    The briefing was presented by Dr. Otis Brawley, the Society's chief medical and scientific officer. Dr. Brawley provided an in depth look at cancer trends of the last century, both in diagnoses and mortality, and discussed disparities based on race, gender, age and physical location.

    All attendees were given copies of the 2018 Facts and Figures report along with information regarding ACS CAN's 2018 federal priorities and other resources.


    Colorectal Cancer Advocate Hold Briefing on Capitol Hill  

    On March 20, ACS CAN and Fight Colorectal Cancer held a joint briefing and lobby day on Capitol Hill to draw attention to colorectal cancer and the role public policy plays in helping reduce the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. for men and women combined.

    Advocates heard from a variety of speakers including several members of Congress, professional race car driver and colon cancer survivor Scott Lagasse, Jr., Dr. Mark Pochapin from the American College of Gastroenterology and Dr. Lisa Richardson from the CDC. Speakers discussed the progress made through the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable's "80 percent by 2018" campaign—an effort of more than 1,500 organizations to raise age-appropriate colorectal screening rates to 80 percent and to substantially reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem.

    Additionally, Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, spoke about the importance of timely and affordable colorectal cancer screenings. As part of the lobby day, advocates participated in more than 200 legislative meetings and pressed lawmakers to take action on the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act. ACS CAN and other members of the Colorectal Cancer Roundtable have worked to increase cosponsors of the legislation. There are currently 259 bipartisan House cosponsors of the bill and 42 in the Senate.

    Right-to-Try Bill Passes U.S. House

    On March 21, the U.S. House passed Right-to-Try legislation that would change the process for accessing experimental drugs without including necessary patient safeguards. This bill was opposed by ACS CAN and more than 80 other patient organizations, largely because it removes the FDA's ability to consult on drug dosing, scheduling, and administration, among other important safety measures on which the agency is uniquely qualified to advise.

    ACS CAN will continue to engage on this bill as it moves to the Senate and will encourage lawmakers to reject the legislation in its current form.  

    ACS CAN Comments on Proposed Rule to Expand Association Health Plans

    ACS CAN responded to the U.S. Department of Labor's proposed rule to expand access to Association Health Plans (AHPs). ACS CAN has opposed proposals that promote the growth of AHPs because the plans do not provide comprehensive coverage, could damage the non-AHP individual and small group markets, and inadequately address issues of plan solvency and regulatory oversight, especially in light of the long record of AHP fraud and solvency problems. In our comments we urged the Department of Labor not to finalize the proposed rule until the needs of the patient community have been met. 

    ACS CAN Submits Comments on Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans

    ACS CAN filed comments in response to Medicare's draft Call Letter (sub-regulatory guidance to Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans). Our comments urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to encourage Medicare Advantage plans to waive beneficiary coinsurance responsibility in instances where a polyp is removed during a screening colonoscopy. We also filed comments regarding CMS' proposals to restrict opioids.

    ACS CAN Comments on Alabama and Ohio 1115 Waivers

    ACS CAN recently submitted comments to proposed 1115 waivers at the state level for both Alabama and Ohio's Medicaid programs. Both states seek approval from CMS to implement a work and community engagement requirement that would require certain enrollees to participate in work or community engagement activities to remain eligible for health care coverage through the Medicaid program. ACS CAN expressed concern that these policies, including the coverage lock-out periods for noncompliance, could disadvantage patients with serious illnesses and could limit enrollment and create significant barriers to care for low-income Alabamians and Ohioans managing complex chronic conditions, such as cancer. 

    Activities in the States 

    • In Florida, ACS CAN was successful in increasing the annual recurring allotted funding for breast and cervical cancer screening from $300,000 to $1.8 million.
    • The Maine legislature successfully overrode Gov. Paul LePage's veto of an ACS CAN-supported law ensuring that regardless of the fate of the Affordable Care Act, Mainers with private health insurance will maintain 100 percent coverage for essential health benefits.
    • Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed legislation to create a pathway for the substitution of interchangeable biologic medicines with appropriate communication to patients and physicians. Biologic drugs are made from a living organism or its products and used in the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer and other diseases.


    ACS CAN is pleased that the fiscal year 2018 funding bill does not contain curbs on the U.S Food and Drug Administration's oversight authority, granted in the Tobacco Control Act, over all tobacco products. ACS CAN has worked for several years to defeat efforts by some members of Congress to exempt many cigars from FDA oversight and to undercut a significant regulatory review of many of the cigars and e-cigarettes which have come onto the market in recent years.

    Additionally, a Congressional proposal to cut funding of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health by one-fourth was not included in the bill. Instead, the prevention and cessation efforts of the office will be funded with a $5 million increase over the funding level of last year, meaning that successful efforts such as the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign and quitline support will receive funding support for the balance of the current fiscal year. 

    Activities in the States

    • In Florida, ACS CAN led a coalition effort to successfully prevent from moving forward a measure before the Constitution Revision Commission that likely would have reduced the state's tobacco counter-marketing expenditures significantly.
    • In Massachusetts, the towns of East Longmeadow and Chicopee each raised the legal age for tobacco purchase to 21. This brings the total number of Massachusetts municipalities with Tobacco-21 laws to 171. The Chicopee ordinance goes into effect April 22, followed by the East Longmeadow law on July 1. Both measures were supported by ACS CAN.
    • ACS CAN has agreed to endorse a Montana tobacco tax ballot initiative that, if successful, would raise the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack; eliminate the 2019 sunset of Montana's Medicaid expansion; and provide a significant portion of the funding for the state Medicaid expansion match.
    • In Oklahoma, the legislature adopted, and Gov. Mary Fallin signed, a tax package that included a one dollar per pack increase on cigarettes. The impact of this measure is estimated to reduce the number of tobacco-related deaths by 10,000, increase the number of adult smokers who quit by nearly 19,000, and increase by 17,000 the number of youths who kids never take up the habit. The tax increase will go into effect July 30.
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a Tobacco Regulations Amendments bill that adds the local health department to the tobacco licensing process to ensure that proximity rules are properly enforced dictating where tobacco specialty shops can be legally located. The bill also gives local health departments the authority to enforce retail license violations.
    • The Wyoming legislature increased the amount of funding for state prevention programs, including tobacco prevention, from $4 million to $5.5 million.


    Activities in the States

    • On March 29, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed into law an ACS CAN-sponsored palliative care bill. West Virginia became the 22nd state to pass palliative care legislation.
    • The Wyoming legislature approved two years of funding for the Palliative Care Commission. The commission was created in legislation passed last year without an appropriation.


  • ACS CAN's 2017 advocacy accomplishments report now available

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's (ACS CAN) 2017 Advocacy Accomplishments report, "Cancer Advocacy: Leading a Movement to Promote and Preserve Progress," is now available online.

    The report details ACS CAN's success at the local, state, and national levels of government.  In 2017, ACS CAN volunteers and staff celebrated a $2 billion increase in medical research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $475 million for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget. 

    ACS CAN staff and volunteers continued to advocate for robust and sustained funding for critical cancer programs, and after the 2017 report went to press, Congress approved an FY 2018 spending bill that included a $3 billion increase for medical research, including cancer-focused grants. The largest increase for research in the federal budget in 15 years allowed ACS CAN to reach its One Degree campaign goal of increasing federal funding for medical research at NIH by $6 billion, including $1 billion for cancer-specific research at NCI. Fighting to preserve cancer research funding for FY 2019 will be a top priority for ACS CAN to continue to save more lives. 

    ACS CAN staff and volunteers also secured a number of victories in tobacco control, including Aspen, CO's tobacco tax increase of $3 per pack and New York City's increase of the minimum price of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13.  Additionally, more than 2.7 million people will be covered by new local smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars once all ordinances passed in 2017 are fully implemented. These are just some of the accomplishments featured in this year's report.

    Please share the report with colleagues, volunteers, corporate partners, and others to increase awareness and understanding of ACS CAN's role in helping to achieve the American Cancer Society's mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. 





  • ​New federal budget achieves historic victory for One Degree campaign and cancer research funding

    In 2015, ACS CAN launched the One Degree campaign and called on Congress to increase cancer research funding by $1 billion.

    Now, after three years of hard work by ACS CAN volunteers, that ambitious goal has been reached.

    Congress just passed the federal budget for the 2018 fiscal year and it includes significant funding increases for cancer and medical research.

    The new budget includes huge increases for the research budgets of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Additionally, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received an increase to help reach more low-income, underinsured women access lifesaving cancer screenings. 

    ACS CAN President Chris Hansen said, “We commend lawmakers for their strong, bipartisan dedication to consistent and continual research funding reflected in this budget. Their efforts are sure to help spur groundbreaking research for years to come.”

    Scientists and medical researchers will now have $1 billion more in cancer research funding than they did in 2015. This money can be used to help find new cures, develop improved cancer treatments and discover better ways to prevent cancer.

    ACS CAN will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure federal investment in cancer research and prevention remains a top priority for Congress for FY2019.

    More about the One Degree Campaign

    ACS CAN launched the One Degree campaign in 2015 because everyone is one degree from cancer. Whether it is a family member, a friend or ourselves – everyone has been touched by this disease. In the three years since then, ACS CAN volunteers signed petitions, called and met with lawmakers, and shared their own cancer stories. The 2018 federal budget shows that Congress listened.

  • $1.3 trillion FY18 spending plan signed by the President prioritizes medical research and cancer prevention

    The U.S. House of Representatives on March 22 and the U.S. Senate on March 23 passed an FY18 federal budget that includes a $3 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the largest such funding increase in 15 years; a $275 million increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI); a $10 million increase for cancer prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and first-time funding of $15 million for the Oncology Center of Excellence at the Food and Drug Administration(FDA). The President signed it Friday afternoon, March 23.

    The budget also increases funding for the CDC Office of Smoking and Health (OSH) and preserves the FDA’s full regulatory authority over tobacco products.

    Funding to stabilize the individual insurance markets and reduce patient premiums was not included.

    The $1.3 trillion spending package will fund the government for the 2018 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 and is already almost halfway over, averting another government shutdown. 

    ACS CAN President Chris Hansen issued the following statement yesterday, after the House approved the plan:


    “The $3 billion boost to NIH, including $275 million more for NCI, offers a historic opportunity to greatly accelerate the pace of innovation and progress against a disease that is expected to kill more than 600,000 Americans this year. The increased resources come at a critical time as researchers are on the cusp of many promising new cancer diagnostic tools and treatments, including those that harness a patient’s own immune system to fight the disease. This increase coupled with first-time funding for the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence, promises to maximize our nation’s investment in medical research and ensure those advancements make it as quickly as possible from the lab to patients.

    “We commend lawmakers for their strong, bipartisan dedication to consistent and continual research funding reflected in this budget. Their efforts are sure to help spur groundbreaking research for years to come.”


    “Cancer prevention and early detection is essential to reducing cancer’s devastating effects. This includes ensuring those who are uninsured or underinsured can access recommended screenings, like those for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, and dedicated efforts to reduce tobacco use.

    “For years these programs have struggled with flat or falling funding. This budget finally provides the opportunity to increase access to life-saving services that will improve the health of underserved Americans. This includes a nearly $8 million increase for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program; a joint federal-state effort that has screened 5.3 million uninsured or underinsured women since its inception, but which has historically struggled with inadequate resources to reach many more who are eligible.

    “Moreover, the budget gives a $5 million bump for the CDC Office of Smoking and Health (OSH), which leads federal efforts to reduce tobacco-related death and disease, and preserves the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over the full range of tobacco products granted under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

    “Together this renewed focus on prevention and detection promises to maximize public health and minimize needless death and suffering from cancer. Lawmakers should be commended for recognizing the importance of preventing cancer whenever possible and detecting it early when it is most treatable.”


    “While cancer prevention, detection and treatment are all prioritized in the FY 18 budget, patients’ ability to access quality, affordable health care on the individual insurance market was not addressed. Rising health care costs and changes to rules governing how health plans operate pose serious challenges to patients’ long-term ability to benefit from evidence-based prevention and new and improved treatments. We encourage lawmakers to continue looking for long-term, bipartisan solutions to ensure investment in prevention and research are not squandered through barriers that block meaningful access to care.”

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