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2019 ACS CAN Advocacy Accomplishments report now available

It showcases how ACS is attacking cancer from every angle, including through public policy advocacy

ACS CAN's 2019 Advocacy Accomplishments report, Champions for Change: Leading the Fight to Conquer Cancer, is now available to read and share.

The report reflects on ACS CAN's past successes as it moves our mission forward during these challenging times by continuing to advocate on behalf of cancer patients and survivors. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the critical need for access to health care, making public policy advocacy even more critical to cancer patients and their loved ones. 

The 2019 report details ACS CAN’s successes at all levels of government and across our mission priority areas, including cancer research and prevention, access to health care, tobacco control, and global advocacy. 

In 2019, ACS CAN volunteers and staff made tremendous impact on the fight against cancer, from intensive campaigns to pass strong, comprehensive tobacco control legislation, to creating a deeper conversation around the crucial, lifesaving role that Medicaid plays in our communities. ACS CAN also expanded its global impact on cancer.

While not a complete account of the tremendous work ACS CAN volunteers and staff achieved in 2019, the report demonstrates the organization’s unique ability to drive impact and influence public policy by elevating the voices of cancer patients, survivors, and their families in communities nationwide. 

In addition to publishing the full report in PDF form, ACS CAN’s website now features a new landing page (pictured in the smaller image) dedicated to the Accomplishments Report. 

  • President signs Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    Clears the way for checks to be sent to Americans 

    On Friday, the president signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes provisions to help nonprofits continue their critical services across the country. The CARES Act includes more than $2 trillion to help individuals, businesses, and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    ACS and ACS CAN volunteers and staff had urged their lawmakers to consider nonprofit organizations in the relief package. This activation resulted in more than 18,000 messages sent and more than 1,000 phone calls to Senate offices.

    As ACS CAN policy experts pore through the hundreds of pages of the COVID-19 stimulus packages, they are seeing many very important victories for people impacted by cancer. These include:

    • Funding for the Community Health Centers that serve more than 29 million Americans in over 12,000 rural and urban communities across the nation.
    • Up to 2 weeks of paid family medical leave so people can take care of loved ones impacted by coronavirus or care for children whose schools have closed.
    • Coverage with no cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing even for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
    • Tax relief for charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society so they can remain on the frontlines serving cancer patients during and long after this health crisis.

    For cancer patients, these provisions could be the difference between life and death. It could mean getting that needed test or making it to that crucial cancer treatment. One thing I know for sure is that it will mean saving more lives.

    This is the third in a series of stimulus packages that Congress has passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Its efforts have included direct lobbying, activating our grassroots network, and connecting grasstops leaders with key policymakers and staff. On Wednesday, Gary Reedy joined the CEOs of 150 other nonprofit organizations on a call with President Trump, during which the president thanked nonprofits for their essential role in providing services to our communities. 

    A detailed summary of the three stimulus packages and the provisions most critical to our mission is available here

  • Leaders of nation’s charitable nonprofits urge Congress to do more

    Please contact your senators ASAP!

    On March 23, the following statement was sent to national congressional, political, and policy reporters from CEOs of national charitable nonprofits, including ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy. The statement calls on Congress to prioritize the nonprofit sector in economic relief packages currently being considered. For more details, read this earlier story.

    After you read it, please contact your senators ASAP and urge them to support what ACS CAN is seeking. The e-message has already been created, and it takes just a few seconds to fill in some details. TAKE ACTION HERE.

    STATEMENT:

    "We appreciate provisions in the current proposal that may help some nonprofits — through Small Business Administration Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants, and the inclusion of a universal charitable deduction — but there is still much that must be done to ensure the charitable sector can meet the frontline demands of the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, we urge Congress to:

    • Expressly provide charitable nonprofits with $60B in any emergency funding proposals. The charitable sector needs an immediate infusion of $60 billion and a mechanism must be constructed for a rapid infusion of cash to those organizations serving immediate needs in communities facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic
    • Create a robust universal charitable deduction and allow post-March 1, 2020 donations to be claimed on 2019 and future tax returns. Improve the proposed above-the-line charitable deduction by significantly raising the cap and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes (due on July 15) and beyond.
    • Ensure all nonprofits qualify for new small business loans and remove the Medicaid exclusion and 500-employee caps. Clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency Small Business Loan program by using the tax-law definition of charitable organizations (Sec. 501(c)(3) public charities), removing the cap on the number of employees, and removing the language that excludes nonprofits that are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursements.

    We understand that providing economic relief is an ongoing process; however, given that nonprofits generate 5.4 percent of the nation’s GDP and employ 12 million people — more than the transportation, construction, and even manufacturing industries — it is imperative that Congress prioritize relief for the nonprofit sector. 

    We stand ready to work with Congress as the process continues so our sector can continue to help our communities and our nation respond to and recover from this crisis. We remain committed partners in providing aid and relief to the millions that we collectively serve.

    “Funding for charitable organizations is going to fall precipitously but the needs in our communities will not,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “As our nation recovers from this pandemic, cancer patients will rely on services like free rides to the doctor, free lodging when cancer treatment takes them far from home, and always available and trusted cancer information. Without federal funding support, we will face decisions with potentially bleak consequences for the cancer community we provide services to every day across the country — as will the rest of the charitable community regarding their mission delivery.”

    Since last Thursday, March 19, more than 16,000 messages have been delivered to senators, in addition to more than 1,000 confirmed phone calls. If you made one of them - thank you!


  • Patient groups urge court to reject rule weakening health insurance standards

    ​Short-term insurance rule could leave many uninsured or underinsured

    Patient groups representing millions of people with serious health conditions are urging a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to reject a federal rule expanding the availability of short-term limited-duration (STLD) insurance plans. The Court is scheduled to hear arguments today, March 20.

    STLD plans are exempt from having to cover essential health benefits, like prescription drugs and hospitalization, and can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    The groups, which include the ACS CAN, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, March of Dimes, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, argue the rule effectively allows STLD plans to serve as replacements for comprehensive coverage in violation of current law.

    A statement from the groups follows:

    “Rarely has the need for comprehensive health care coverage been clearer than it is today, yet the expansion of short-term limited-duration insurance plans threatens to erode patient access to meaningful coverage and put others at risk with inadequate insurance plans.

    “Increased access to short-term plans jeopardizes the individual insurance market by dividing it between younger and healthier people, who are drawn to these barebones plans, and people with pre-existing conditions and older individuals who are forced to pay more for comprehensive plans or forgo insurance all together.

    “Because short-term plans can exclude or charge people more based on their health status, patients with pre-existing conditions could face insurmountable premiums for the ACA-compliant plans. Meanwhile, those who enroll in short-term plans could face devastating bills should they become unexpectedly ill, including from COVID-19, and require services like hospitalization, which these plans often do not cover.

    “Considering the overwhelming risk to patients and the demonstrable problems with these short-term plans, we urge the Court to strike down this rule and uphold the critical coverage standards under current law.”


  • Nonprofits, including ACS CAN, ask Congress for relief; help by sending a quick email to your U.S. Senators

    A coalition of 144 the nation’s largest charities, including  the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) American Heart Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, American Lung Association, and the American Red Cross is asking lawmakers for $60 billion in Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief and economic stimulus in addition to creating a universal charitable deduction for taxpayers through 2021 to incentivize giving. 

    As the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is advocating for this issue on ACS’s behalf. 

    In a message to Congress on March 18, nonprofit leaders stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic “is having a profound impact on the economy and has greatly expanded the need for charitable organizations to provide additional services in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, the economic downturn will undoubtedly result in a contraction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable organizations.”

    The coalition leaders wrote: “Nonprofits need an immediate infusion of $60 billion in capital to maintain operations, expand scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.”

    “At a time when Americans need these services most, donations and fundraising are declining," said ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy. "Cancer doesn’t take a break, and neither can the programs and services that ACS provides nationwide.”

    You can help with this effort by sending a quick email to your U.S. Senators here. Once you have taken action, please share this alert far and wide. We need to generate as many emails and calls TODAY in order to win on this mission critical issue. 

    Questions on ACS CAN and lobbying on specific cancer policy issues should be directed to your local ACS CAN staff partner.

    Nonprofits constitute about 10% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employ about 12 million people. “Without dramatic and immediate financial and programmatic backstop from government, America’s charitable nonprofits and the people we serve face a precipitous decline in mission services at a time when our efforts are needed like never before by the most vulnerable in our communities,” nonprofit leaders warned.

  • Senate passes the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

    Provides critical support for cancer patients, survivors, and others at risk

    The Senate on Wednesday approved, and the President signed, a coronavirus relief bill passed by the House last week that provides free testing and paid leave for certain workers as the White House solidifies plans for an even larger package to address the fallout of the pandemic.

    ACS CAN had urged the Senate to pass the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The vote was 90 to 8.

    The Act includes free coronavirus testing, expanded funding for food security programs, increased funding for Medicaid and state unemployment insurance, and paid sick, family, and medical leave for workers at companies with 500 employees or fewer. The majority of workers in the country work at companies with more than 500 employees, many of which already offer paid leave.

    You can stay updated on ACS CAN activities on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

  • ACS CAN urges bold action to protect the most vulnerable

    ACS CAN is among 29 groups asking the Senate to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

    Twenty-nine organizations representing millions of patients diagnosed with serious health conditions have urged the U.S. Senate to immediately pass the U.S. House-approved coronavirus bill and take additional critical steps. 

    In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the organizations emphasize the importance of enacting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). 

    Public health experts warn that patients with serious, chronic conditions face heightened risk of sickness and death if infected with the novel coronavirus. For these patients, assurances that the vast majority of healthy adults will survive infection provide little comfort. It’s absolutely critical that lawmakers act with urgency to protect our nation’s most vulnerable, the advocacy organizations said, including ACS CAN.

    H.R. 6201 contains important provisions that expand the ability of patients to get tested for COVID-19 and encourage “social distancing” that could reduce transmission. These steps include: 

    • Extending no-cost coronavirus testing to all patients, regardless of insurance type or status. 
    • Increasing federal support for Medicaid spending to ease financial strain on state budgets during this crisis.
    • Providing opportunities for paid time off to allow some symptomatic workers to stay home without suffering financially. 
    • Suspending work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in order to facilitate social distancing and reflect economic realities during this crisis. 

    Separately, patient organizations urge lawmakers to quickly take these additional, vital steps in subsequent legislation: 

    • Ensure patients have access to COVID-19 treatment at no or low out-of-pocket costs.
    • Expand the number of workers eligible for paid and protected leave during the pandemic.
    • Promote health coverage through expedited Medicaid enrollment and initiate a special open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act exchange coverage. 
    • Expand the availability of telemedicine services for those without COVID-19 symptoms to facilitate social distancing and prevent disruption of necessary care.
    • Require all health insurers to allow patients to follow CDC recommendations and obtain backup supplies of essential medicines and medical products. 

    Patient organizations also urge the administration to immediately repeal the block grant policy issued on January 30, 2020, which encourages states to cap their Medicaid spending. Any state that enacts these caps risks serious financial limitations that could prevent it from effectively addressing this pandemic. 

    Patients with chronic health conditions are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. With the number of reported infections increasingly daily, lawmakers must take these steps immediately. If they don’t, the nation may lose valuable time that could have saved lives.

    Groups on the letter include: Adult Congenital Heart Association, ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Kidney Fund, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Chronic Disease Coalition, COPD Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Voices, Hemophilia Federation of America, Immune Deficiency Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services of America, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Health Council, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National Patient Advocate Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, Susan G. Komen, United Way Worldwide, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.



  • FDA to require new health warnings for cigarette packages and ads

    Beginning June 18, 2021, these new cigarette health warnings will be required to appear prominently, occupying the top 50% of the area of the front and rear panels of cigarette packages and at least 20% of the area at the top of cigarette advertisements.

    Here is a statement from ACS CAN:

    "By issuing a final rule requiring large, graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and advertising, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today has taken a critical and long-overdue step forward in the nation’s battle against tobacco use – the number one cause of preventable death. The new warnings show and tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking and will promote greater public understanding of the many ways in which smoking harms the human body. 

    View the final warnings.

    The graphic warnings are a dramatic improvement over the current text-only warnings, which have become stale and unnoticed since they were last updated in 1984. They are supported by extensive scientific evidence and will help the United States catch up to the 120-plus countries that have adopted this best-practice strategy to reduce tobacco use and save lives. 

    By law, the new warnings are required to appear on cigarette packs and ads 15 months after a final rule is issued (June 18, 2021). The FDA must now ensure these warnings are fully implemented and vigorously defended against likely legal challenges by the tobacco industry. Congress first mandated graphic cigarette warnings more than 10 years ago and we cannot afford more delays – not when tobacco use still kills half a million Americans, sickens millions more and costs the nation $170 billion in health care expenses each year. The FDA’s rule makes a comprehensive and compelling case for the graphic warnings that shows they stand on firm scientific and legal ground. The rule is also entirely consistent with what Congress required in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

    The FDA faced a court-ordered deadline of March 15 to submit to the Federal Register a final rule requiring the graphic warnings as a result of a successful lawsuit filed by our public health and medical organizations and several individual pediatricians in October 2016 (the court’s order required that the final rule be submitted to the Federal Register for publication by March 15). Our lawsuit sought to force the FDA to comply with provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, which required graphic warnings covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of each cigarette ad.

    In a September 2018 ruling, Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts found the FDA “unlawfully withheld” and “unreasonably delayed” agency action to require the graphic warnings. Judge Talwani subsequently ordered the FDA to issue a proposed rule by August 15, 2019, and a final rule by March 15, 2020.

    The lawsuit was filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative and several individual pediatricians. The plaintiffs have been represented by the legal staff of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Boston law firm of Anderson & Kreiger LLP."

    The final cigarette health warnings each consist of one of the following textual warning statements paired with an accompanying photo depicting the negative health consequences of smoking:

    • WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
    • WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
    • WARNING: Smoking causes head and neck cancer.
    • WARNING: Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine.
    • WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy stunts fetal growth.
    • WARNING: Smoking can cause heart disease and strokes by clogging arteries.
    • WARNING: Smoking causes COPD, a lung disease that can be fatal.
    • WARNING: Smoking reduces blood flow, which can cause erectile dysfunction.
    • WARNING: Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation.
    • WARNING: Smoking causes type 2 diabetes, which raises blood sugar.
    • WARNING: Smoking causes cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

  • Lawmakers introduce bipartisan legislation to modernize clinical diagnostics

    Bipartisan legislation that would modernize the process for bringing molecular diagnostic tests to market was introduced in both chambers of Congress last week. 

    The Verifying Accurate, Leading-Edge In Vitro Clinical Test Development (VALID) Act, authored by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was developed with input from a broad cross section of stakeholders, including patient groups, manufacturers, providers and laboratories.

    The legislation aims to harmonize disparate regulatory processes between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with the goal of applying a modern risk-based regulatory system that continues to bring new, cutting-edge diagnostic and lab developed tests to market while providing important performance assurances to patients and their providers.

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

    “For cancer patients and their families, a diagnostic test is often the first step toward a viable treatment plan that can attack cancer at its core. Accurate and reliable diagnostic tests are critical in making the best care decisions for those with a cancer diagnosis, which is why we have been engaged in this issue for years.

    “We applaud the bipartisan, bicameral introduction of the VALID Act and the collaborative process that the sponsors have taken in writing this legislation. Comprehensive diagnostic reform will not only improve care delivery in the short term, but will also ensure patients continue to benefit from emerging personalized therapies moving forward. We look forward to continuing to work with the sponsors on this legislation and making this much-needed reform a priority.”

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