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New bipartisan legislation could clear the path to clinical trials

ACS CAN says Clinical Trial Modernization Act would help remove cost and geographic barriers.

Federal legislation that would make it easier for all cancer patients to participate in clinical trials was introduced on May 15 in the House. Sponsored by Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), the Clinical Trial Modernization Act is bipartisan legislation that would increase access to clinical trials by helping remove cost and geographic barriers to patient participation.

The legislation would allow clinical trial sponsors to provide financial support to patients for costs associated with their trial participation, including medical cost-sharing like copays, and non-medical expenses such as travel, parking, food and lodging. It would also allow trial sponsors to provide patients with the necessary technology to facilitate remote participation in clinical trials. These provisions would help ensure that all patients are able to participate in clinical trials, including those who are underrepresented in clinical trials, like older adults, people with limited incomes, certain racial and ethnic groups and people who live in rural areas.

According to an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) survey of cancer patients and survivors, 79 percent of respondents indicated they would be more likely to enroll in a clinical trial if sponsors supported them financially to offset non-medical costs. Eighty percent said they would be willing to use remote technologies and tools in a trial.

“Clinical trials are essential for continuing to improve cancer prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship, but are out of reach for far too many patients,” ACS CAN President Lisa A. Lacasse said in a statement. “The Clinical Trial Modernization Act can give more patients—regardless of how much money they make or where they live—a chance to enroll in the best treatment options available by reducing barriers to enrollment due to cost and access issues.”

The legislation would also amend the Internal Revenue Code so that stipends or other forms of payments like per-diems that are provided by a trial sponsor, up to $2000, are not considered as taxable income or counted against income limits for programs such as Medicaid.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be able to provide grants for community education, outreach and recruitment activities to enable greater clinical trial engagement with underrepresented populations. Grant-eligible activities would include working with community trial sites and community health centers, training health care personnel and clinical trial investigators, engaging community stakeholders to encourage clinical trial participation and fostering partnerships with community-based organizations serving those communities.

“The Clinical Trial Modernization Act will help improve access to lifesaving clinical trials and help accelerate the development of new and better treatment options for all patients,” said Lacasse. “We urge Congress to quickly take up this bill and pass it into law.”



  • ACS CAN Lights of Hope Logistics Team seeks help

    Submit by June 13 to be considered to assist in set up and take down of display in Washington, D.C.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Lights of Hope Logistics Team is calling on interested ACS CAN and American Cancer Society (ACS) team members and volunteers to join them in helping to make this year’s 14th Annual Lights of Hope another monumental event. 

    On Tuesday, Sept. 17, ACS CAN will host its National Lights of Hope during ACS CAN’s annual National Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, which will be held Sept. 15 - 18 in Washington D.C. Since 2011, Lights of Hope has been ACS CAN’s signature fundraising event to honor and remember those who have been touched by cancer, while raising funds to help end the fight against cancer as we know it, for everyone. Again, this year, a solemn display of nearly 10,000 lights will adorn the Constitution Gardens Pond in D.C. to honor cancer survivors and memorialize those who lives were lost due to the disease. The event will be held in tandem with Lights of Hope displays across the country including a collective total of more than 60,000 lights.

    Those who participate as members of the ACS CAN Lights of Hope Logistics Team will volunteer to assist in the set up and take down of Lights of Hope throughout Constitution Gardens, guide attendees as needed as well as lead a team of other volunteers to complete this task, potentially lasting 12+ hours. 

    To apply, please complete the submission form by Thursday, June 13. ACS CAN and ACS team members are encouraged to discuss interest with their manager prior to completing the form. ACS CAN and ACS volunteers should inform their staff partner of their desire to help with this year’s D.C. Lights of Hope before submitting the interest form. Every qualified applicant will be entered into a lottery for selection. Once selected, ACS CAN and ACS team members and volunteers will be contacted by an ACS CAN team member to verify information, grant approval, and provide specific details related to the event. Travel, hotel, and meal expenses will be covered for members who reside outside of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

    For additional information or questions about ACS CAN’s Lights of Hope Logistics team, contact Rachael Eerdmans, associate director, Advocacy Volunteer Engagement at rachael.eerdmans@cancer.org.


  • ACS CAN finds majority of cancer patients and survivors have or expect to incur medical debt

    Latest Survivor Views survey shows impacts of cancer-related medical debt are unequal and deepen disparities.

    On May 9, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released its latest Survivor Views survey. The survey, which surveyed participants nationwide who have been diagnosed with or treated for cancer in the last seven years, shows nearly half of cancer patients and survivors have medical debt related to their cancer.

    Nearly half of cancer patients and survivors surveyed (47%) have had medical debt related to their cancer, and another 13% expect to incur medical debt as they proceed with their care. Among those with cancer-related medical debt, nearly all (98%) were insured when their medical debt occurred.  The majority of those with cancer debt (49%) have carried over $5,000 in medical debt. Sixty-nine percent have carried this debt for more than a year and over a third (35%) have had medical debt related to their cancer for more than three years.

    The financial and health implications of medical debt for cancer patients and survivors are severe. According to the survey, an individual with cancer-related medical debt was three times more likely to be behind on recommended cancer screenings in comparison to those who have been able to pay for their care without accumulating debt. Nearly half (49%) saw their credit score decrease with 30% having difficulty qualifying for loans.

    “The findings present a grim picture where the burden of medical debt is a common occurrence following a cancer diagnosis – even amongst those who are insured,” said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse. “This shouldn’t be our nation’s reality. The data further reiterates the urgent need for Congress as well as state lawmakers to all work to enact policy solutions to reduce the massive impact of medical debt by both preventing it altogether and helping families who are already facing medical debt.”

    The impacts of cancer-related medical debt are not felt equally and further deepen disparities. Black and Hispanic patients and survivors with medical debt are about twice as likely as White respondents to report being denied care due to their debt (13% and 14%, respectively). Black respondents are also more likely to report being contacted by collections agencies (66%) and to feel harassed by them (44%).

    The survey also found cancer patients and survivors are very supportive of ACS CAN’s new policy recommendations, designed to help reduce medical debt related to cancer and to help families already struggling with medical debt.

    The survey was released during ACS CAN’s 13th annual National Policy Forum on the Future of Health Care in Washington, D.C. As part of ACS CAN’s ongoing advocacy work to help improve access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage, this year’s forum focused on the complexities of medical debt and its implications for cancer patients and their families. A recording of the event will be available for viewing at www.fightcancer.org/2024nationalforum. Please note that you must be registered to view the replay. If you have not registered, please click on the "If you did not pre-register, click here" and enter the information required to view the recording.

    ACS CAN’s Survivor Views research initiative was designed to support the organization’s efforts to end suffering and death from cancer through public policy advocacy. Data provided by cancer patients and survivors allows for a greater understanding of their experiences and opinions on cancer-related issues and gives voice to cancer patients and survivors in the shaping and advocating of public policies that help prevent, detect, and treat cancer and promote a more positive quality of life for those impacted. 

    The data was collected between March 18 and April 14, 2024. A total of 1,284 cohort participants responded to the survey. Differences reported between groups are tested for statistical significance at a 95% confidence interval.  

    Read the full polling memo here.  

    For more information on Survivor Views, visit ACS CAN’s website at www.fightcancer.org/survivor-views.


  • ACS CAN applauds expanding access to affordable health insurance

    On May 6, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a new rule to expand insurance coverage eligibility to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) submitted comments last year supporting the proposed rule because it would remove barriers to accessing health care services, which is critical to reducing health disparities and saving more lives from cancer.

    The final rule amends the definition of “lawfully present” in the United States to include DACA recipients for the purposes of the Affordable Care Act tax credits and subsidies. However, it does not move forward with its original proposal to make DACA recipients eligible to qualify for the Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs.

    “ACS CAN believes everyone, including DACA recipients, should have access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage, which ensures people can prevent, detect, treat and survive diseases like cancer,” said ACS CAN President Lisa A. Lacasse. “Excluding DACA recipients from the ‘lawfully present’ definition has created unfair and unnecessary health care disparities for hundreds of thousands of individuals for over a decade. We commend HHS for taking action to reverse this health care injustice so that DACA recipients can have the peace of mind that health care coverage brings. However, we remain concerned that those with the lowest incomes will not have access to Medicaid or CHIP coverage, which has more protections for those with extremely limited incomes.”

    According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of individuals likely eligible for DACA were uninsured. Under previous regulations, DACA recipients were ineligible to enroll in health insurance marketplaces, CHIP and Medicaid due to their immigration status. Now that the rule is finalized, approximately 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients are expected to enroll in coverage.

    “Having comprehensive and affordable health insurance coverage is a key determinant for surviving diseases like cancer. Only when all individuals have a fair and just opportunity to get and stay healthy can we achieve our vision of ending cancer as we know it, for everyone,” Lisa said.

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  • Register for virtual event to discuss cancer inequities among AANHPI people

    Addressing Cancer Care Barriers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders is set for May 21.

    In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in partnership with the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and ACS CAN’s AAPI Volunteer Caucus are hosting a virtual event to discuss cancer inequities among AANHPI people that face stereotypes, stigma, aggregated data that mask disparities, and cultural and language barriers. The presenters will discuss how disaggregated data, representative and culturally component oncology care, and equitable and accessible patient navigation services can improve access to cancer care and cancer outcomes for AANHPI people.

    Presenters include:

    • Dr. Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN, Dean, Professor Laura Lee Blanton Chair in Nursing, The University of Texas
    • Dr. Bonny Morris, PhD, MSPH, RN, Senior Director, Patient Navigation, American Cancer Society
    • Gladys Arias, MPA, Principal, Health Equity Policy Analysis & Legislative Support, ACS CAN

    "Addressing Cancer Care Barriers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders" is set for Tuesday, May 21, from 12 noon - 1 p.m. ETRegister at this link

     



  • May Advocacy Update

    Efforts to expand access to quality, affordable health care are in full swing, and there's much progress to celebrate.

    A message from ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse

    Happy first day of May! Our advocacy efforts over the last month to expand access to quality, affordable health care have been in full swing, and there's much progress to celebrate. Our work has been timely as April marked the 7th annual Medicaid Awareness Month, and we've remained focused on advocating for access to care in the 10 states that have yet to expand Medicaid.

    The Medicaid Covers US team recently began pre-screening ACS CAN's new and insightful film, "In Due Season," to highlight the critical importance of Medicaid expansion as a step toward achieving equitable health care. Although the majority of Americans enrolled in Medicaid are White, in the states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, 60% of those caught in the coverage gap are people of color. 

    The film amplifies the lived experiences of Black Americans, featuring families affected by this issue. "In Due Season" also captures expert insight from voices like ACS CAN Board member Dr. Karen Winkfield on the history of discriminatory practices within America's health care system that continue to exacerbate health disparities for Black communities.

    ACS CAN partnered with Black Voters Matter to promote pre-screening of the film through the "Sick and Tired" bus tour, which traveled through Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida from April 19 to 25th. The tour included previews of the film, panels with local leaders, health and wellness symposiums, and storytelling booths for participants to share the impact of their experiences with lack of access to health care. The bus tour garnered media attention from news outlets in TennesseeAlabama, and Georgia, including a feature from ACS CAN Senior Outreach Manager, State & Local Campaigns, Tomica Smith. 

    The tour was particularly timely in Mississippi, where the potential for passing Medicaid expansion has come down to the wire at the end of their state session. There's been recent movement and a call for legislators to advance meaningful legislation. ACS CAN continues to urge lawmakers to not just pass expansion in name, but to ensure legislation will truly increase access to affordable, comprehensive health care, without erecting additional barriers. 

    A big thank you to every team member who contributed to making both the preview of "In Due Season" and the bus tour a great success! We know we are continuing to make headway thanks to our strengthened community partnerships and continued engagement with lawmakers relentlessly elevating the importance of access to care in the fight against cancer. 

    I was thrilled to celebrate this work and wins in many other priority areas during a rewarding weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina at our State Lead Ambassador (SLA) Summit. I joined 159 volunteers and team members to publicly appreciate the tireless commitment of our volunteer leaders across the country. Their efforts through direct lobbying of their elected officials, volunteer recruitment, outreach, and engagement continue to drive our impact. 

    We were also proud to celebrate our thousands of volunteers during Volunteer Appreciation Week in April. We posted this video across our social channels and shared a volunteer appreciation kudos post thanking our volunteers.

    I am looking forward to an eventful May. Please join us next week, May 9, at our National Policy ForumI'm excited to see our ACS CAN Board members in two weeks for our Board meeting in Denver. The final days of May will also kick off the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, which is always an incredible opportunity to meet with our many strategic partners in person and celebrate science discoveries over this past year. 

    Thank you for your continued commitment to our public policy advocacy work.


    As part of ACS CAN’s ongoing commitment to making cancer care affordable for everyone, ACS CAN's 2024 Forum on the Future of Health Care on May 9th will focus on alleviating the burden of medical debt many cancer patients, survivors and their families face. Please register to join us in-person or virtually. 


    In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, ACS CAN, the Oncology Nurses Society (ONS) and ACS CAN’s AAPI Volunteer Caucus are hosting a virtual event: Addressing Cancer Care Barriers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at 12 pm Eastern. Please learn more and register to join us virtually.


    Cancer Votes Update

    Cancer Votes is having early success in the Maryland U.S. Senate race and Oregon Congressional District 3 race. Volunteers recently held candidate coffee chats with U.S. Senate Candidate, David Trone, in Maryland and U.S. House Candidate, Michael Jonas, in Oregon to discuss cancer policies that would further our goal of ending cancer as we know it, for everyone. Additional coffee chat events are in the early planning stages for late spring and early summer. In addition, Maryland Senate candidates, Larry Hogan and David Trone, and Oregon Congressional District 3 candidates, Susheela Jayapal and Michael Jonas have signed ACS CAN's Cancer Promise, pledging their support for cancer research funding, ensuring access to affordable, quality health coverage, and ensuring access to cancer prevention and early detection services, including tobacco control.

    Event Highlights:

    National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) Annual Conference

    Today I served as a speaker for NCUIH's Annual Conference - Sustaining Traditions lunch plenary for an audience of Urban Indian Organization (UIO) representatives, Tribal leaders, nonprofits, and representatives from government agencies. ACS CAN sponsored this important conference as we strive to continue serving as a strong ally for American Indian and Alaska Native communities who carry a disproportionate cancer burden.

    National Minority Quality Forum's recent live webinar Amplifying Patient Voices for Health Equity in the Wake of the Inflation Reduction Act explored the importance of patient voices in achieving health equity and provided strategies for amplifying those voices as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to implement the IRA. Panelists included Pam Traxel, Senior Vice President, Alliance Development and Philanthropy, ACS CAN; Donna Cryer, J.D., President and Founder, Global Liver Institute; and Stephanie Dyson, Senior Vice President, U.S. Policy and Government Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb. The panel was moderated by Pamela Barnes, Director Federal Strategic Alliances, U.S. Policy and Government Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb.

    National Medical Association (NMA) Colloquium on African American Health

    ACS CAN's James Williams, Director, Federal Relations - Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Screening, participated in NMA’s Health Colloquium Workshop, Removing Cost Barriers to Prostate Cancer Screening with the Honorable Troy Carter, U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Carter has been a lead champion of our priority prostate cancer screening legislation, PSA for HIM.

    National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW)

    ACS CAN participated in two events for the NCBW Legislative Day. Angela Sailor, Director of Federal Strategic Alliances, Health Equity, and James Williams, led an advocacy presentation on appropriations, MCED, PSA Screening for HIM, and Screens for Cancer Act. The following day, NCBW asked members of Congress to fund cancer research and pass the PSA Screening for HIM Act, MCED, and SCREENS for Cancer Act. Nishith Pandya, Director of Federal Relations, also participated in the panel on diversity in clinical trials and discussed ACS CAN's work on this issue and why it is a priority. 

    Addressing Representation in Clinical Trials Congressional Briefing  

    In partnership with the Alliance for Cancer Care Equity (ACCE), ACS CAN hosted a Congressional Briefing: Addressing Representation in Clinical Trials. The briefing featured remarks by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the Modernization of Clinical Trials Act, formerly named DIVERSE. ACS CAN featured panelists including Ms. Beatrice Cardenas-Duncan, Cancer Survivor and Lead Advocate for California, and Dr. Mark Fleury, Principal, Policy Development - Emerging Science.

    Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program & Prevent Cancer Foundation Honors Dr. Francis Collins

    I was thrilled to attend the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program & Prevent Cancer Foundation's reception to honor Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health for his phenomenal impact on science and cancer. At the event, Dr. Collins announced this prostate cancer diagnosis, emphasizing the importance of screening and clinical trials. You can read his powerful OpEd which ran in the Washington Post. We wish Dr. Collins well throughout his prostate cancer treatment. An instrumental leader at the NIH, he championed robust funding for biomedical research. As he eloquently articulated that evening, early detection matters—that's why legislation like PSA For HIM is key for improving access to lifesaving screening.


    State Updates: 

    Iowa Legislature Passes Biomarker Bill 

    Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law that will ensure Iowans covered by Medicaid and state-regulated insurance plans now have coverage for biomarker testing when medically appropriate. Precision medicine helps patients access the right treatment at the right time, and this legislation will help reduce disparities in access to these lifesaving innovations in Iowa. We are thrilled that Iowa became the 17th state nationwide to implement ACS CAN’s model legislation. 

    ACS CAN Applauds Virginia Legislation Improving Access to Screening

    Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed legislation aimed at improving Virginians’ access to colorectal cancer screening. The bipartisan proposal will ensure coverage, without cost sharing, for colorectal cancer screening in accordance with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines, including a follow-up colonoscopy after a positive non-invasive screening test. ACS CAN looks forward to the impact this legislation will have on cancer prevention and early detection in Virginia.

    Ohio Court Issues Restraining Order Against Law Prohibiting Local Tobacco Regulations

    Franklin County Court of Common Pleas has issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of a state law prohibiting local regulations of tobacco and alternative nicotine products. The temporary restraining order blocks the law from going into effect until a preliminary injunction hearing on Friday, May 17. Recall that the tobacco preemption law was passed as part of the budget bill and Governor Mike DeWine vetoed the language, but the General Assembly overrode his veto. Preemption laws have a chilling effect on communities’ ability to pass critical public health measures including evidence-based tobacco control interventions. We will continue to work to reduce barriers to these policies that are critical to our cancer mission.

    California Rooted in Community Empowerment (RICE) Grant Developments

    ACS CAN congratulates the RICE team for their win in Emeryville, CA, which has a population of 12,887 (35.9% White, 30.3% Asian, 17.7% Black, and 9.3% Hispanic or Latino). The Council voted unanimously to pass the first reading of a comprehensive Tobacco Retail Licensing ordinance that ends the sale of all flavored tobacco, sets a minimum price and pack size for cigar products, ends the sale of all tobacco in pharmacies, allows no new retailers near youth areas, and includes a mandatory annual compliance visit and annual youth decoy operation. The council strengthened the policy at the last minute to add 90-day rechecks for stores that fail compliance visits. A second policy also passed to remove the exemption for smoking lounges.


    Federal Updates:

    Major Disappointment as Administration Indefinitely Delays FDA Tobacco Control Rules

    Last Friday, the White House announced it is indefinitely delaying finalization of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes, without mention of eliminating all flavors in cigars, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating menthol flavoring is a serious public health risk.  ACS CAN once again calls on the White House to commit to its Cancer Moonshot goal and take meaningful action to reduce tobacco-related cancers. We will continue our work with federal, state, and local lawmakers to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

    Patient Quality of Life Coalition Lobby Day

    ACS CAN joined 49 advocates and volunteers representing 22 states and 15 organizations with ACS CAN’s Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC) on Capitol Hill for its 9th Annual PQLC Lobby Day, visiting 48 Senate and 2 House offices. Together we elevated the patient voice and advocated for the passage of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), thanked appropriators for FY24 palliative care funding, and requested that the Senate hold a markup in the HELP Committee, to be followed by a vote on the Senate floor. PQLC, a coalition led by ACS CAN, is made up of more than 40 organizations working collectively to advance the interests of patients facing serious illness by supporting policies that improve and expand access to high-quality palliative care services. ACS CAN urges lawmakers to prioritize passage of this important legislation this year to save lives.

    Patient Advocate Groups Urge the Supreme Court to Address Youth Tobacco Use

    ACS CAN joined other tobacco control groups in an amicus brief urging the US Supreme Court to take up the FDA’s appeal of a decision by the 5th Circuit en banc which struck down marketing denial orders the agency had issued for flavored e-cigarette products. The 5th Circuit decision put that circuit at odds with most other circuit courts, which have upheld similar orders. Our brief highlighted the role of flavors in addicting children to e-cigarettes and the ongoing nationwide prevalence of the problem of youth use of these novel tobacco products.


    Advocacy in the News 

    NYTBiden Delays Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

    ForbesBiden Admin Again Delays Proposed Menthol Cigarettes Ban

    USA TodayDo cancer patients get enough time off work? Most struggle to balance finances, job duties

    Radio Health JournalCancer Drug Shortage: Deciding Who Lives And Who Dies

    CNNCivil rights, medical groups sue FDA over ‘almost unconscionable’ delay in ban on menthol tobacco products

    CBS News RadioNews on the Hour

    US NewsAnti-smoking Groups Sue FDA Again Over Menthol Ban Delays

    Politico : Beating cancer used to be bipartisan. What happened?

    Alabama Reflector : Alabama lawmakers weigh Medicaid expansion approaches in Southern states

    WJTVMississippi man falls into healthcare coverage gap

    ABC7Activists ask California legislators to expand access to cancer services (Spanish)

    Des Moines RegisterExpand access to biomarker testing

    WENYA look at cancer prevention in the state budget

    La Crosse TribuneLinda DeGarmo: US Sen. Baldwin Brought Federal Support to Palliative Care



  • Administration delays rules to end sale of menthol cigarettes

    On Friday, April 26, the White House announced it is indefinitely delaying finalization of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes, without mention of eliminating all flavors in cigars, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating menthol flavoring is a serious public health risk.

    "The White House fell for industry rhetoric and, as a result, public health will suffer," said Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "For the last two years, the Biden Administration has had the opportunity to take a significant step in their cancer moonshot goal to end cancer as we know it by reducing tobacco use, responsible for more than 30% of all cancer deaths. Today’s announcement that they will not take action anytime soon deals a significant blow to that goal.

    “This shocking announcement comes during the same month the White House declared as National Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month and days before the two-year anniversary of the proposed rules,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “With 30% of all cancer deaths due to smoking, it is hard to imagine how the president can meet the goals of the Cancer Moonshot without meaningfully addressing tobacco use.

    Big Tobacco has used these products for decades to target Black communities, who, as a result, co​​nsistently report the highest prevalence of menthol cigarette use. 83.1% of Black people who smoke using menthol cigarettes, as compared to 56.5% of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander people who smoke, 48% of Hispanic people who smoke, 41.5% of Asian people who smoke and 31.6% of White people who smoke.

    Big Tobacco continues to target youth with their cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars which are all sold in appealing flavors such as menthol, banana, mango, grape, Tropical Twist, Purple Swish and chocolate. An estimated 420,000 U.S. students currently used cigars in 2023. Youth who are Black, or Hispanic or Latino are twice as likely to regularly smoke cigars than their White peers. Citing these alarming statistics, 32 members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to the FDA in August supporting these new rules.

    Instead of taking these deadly products off the market, which could save as many as 654,000 lives, including the lives of more than 238,000 African Americans, over the next 40 years, according to modeling studies, the administration is giving the tobacco industry free rein to continue to deepen these disparities and addict a new, younger generation.

    “The longer the delay, the more people who get lured into a lifetime of tobacco addiction,” said Lacasse, and added: “The administration should refrain from giving deference and more time to conversations with an industry and groups carrying the message of an industry who benefits from addicting new customers, and instead rely on irrefutable evidence that prohibiting flavors is critical to reducing health disparities and ending cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

    Prohibiting menthol in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars would help reduce tobacco initiation among youth and stimulate cessation among adults who smoke, saving lives from tobacco-related diseases like cancer. Research from the American Cancer Society examined the impact on the sale of cigarettes of a Massachusetts law that restricted the sale of all flavored tobacco products in the state and found that this action decreased the sale of menthol cigarettes, contributing to a reduction in overall cigarette sales.

    For more than a decade, ACS CAN has been urging the FDA to prohibit menthol cigarettes as part of our ongoing call to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products. ACS CAN once again calls on the White House to commit to its Cancer Moonshot goal and take meaningful action to reduce tobacco-related cancers. ACS CAN will continue its work with federal, state and local lawmakers to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Our ability to continue to make progress against cancer relies on implementation of evidence-based tobacco control policies and programs, which prevent youth and young adults from becoming addicted to tobacco products and help individuals who currently use these products to quit.

    For more information, please visit fightcancer.org/what-we-do/tobacco-control.


  • ACS CAN joins Black Voters Matter for Sick and Tired Bus Tour

    ​From April 19- 25, ACS CAN is joining Black Voters Matter (BVM) to host a multi-state bus tour to spotlight Southern states that have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility. The bus tour part of ACS CAN’s ongoing advocacy work to increase policymaker knowledge on the importance of insurance coverage and Medicaid expansion’s role in healthier communities.

    The Sick and Tired Bus Tour, is an extension of BV​​M’s relaunched campaign to target the 10 remaining non-expansion states that are largely concentrated in the South and include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Since 2022, ACS CAN has partnered with BVM as a 501c3 civic education nonprofit on outreach events in Black communities throughout Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Alabama. ACS CAN values its collaboration with BVM to help educate and engage new advocates for Medicaid expansion, health equity and its overall advocacy work toward the fight to end cancer as we know it, for everyone.

    “ACS CAN is thrilled to deepen our partnership with Black Voters Matter to call attention to the importance of Medicaid expansion and the critical role it plays in addressing long-standing, life-threatening health disparities,” said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse. “Research continues to show one of the most significant factors in surviving a cancer diagnosis is access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage, and its long past time the 10 states that have yet to increase access to coverage through Medicaid see this reality and recognize their delay is costing people their lives."

    As part of the bus tour, ACS CAN and BVM will travel across Southern states – Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, for an “In Due Season" health equity film sneak preview and discussion, as well as community-centered health and wellness fairs.

    The Sick and Tired Bus Tour is free and open to the public. See location details below.

    April 19 - Memphis, TN | Location: Abyssinian Baptist Church - 3890 Millbranch Rd, Memphis, TN
    • ​​11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. CT: Documentary preview screening & health and wellness fair with community resources

    April 19 - Tupelo, MS | Location: North Mississippi AgriBusiness - 1995 Pine Grove Road, Shannon, MS
    • 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. CT: Documentary preview screening & health and wellness fair with community resources.

    April 20 - Jackson, MS | Location: T. Matthews MB Church — 3660 Fontaine Ave Jackson, MS
    • 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. CT: Documentary preview screening & health and wellness fair with community resources, fellowship hall, food truck.

    April 21 - Montgomery, AL | Location: Stonetank Antioch Missionary Baptist Church — 6515 Old Selma Road, Montgomery, AL
    • 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CT: Documentary preview screening, health and wellness fair & Sunday Service fellowship meal and discussion.

    April 22 - Atlanta, GA | Location: St. Phillip AME Church — 240 Candler Road, Atlanta, GA
    • 5:00 p.m. ET: Documentary preview screening, panel discussion focused on women’s health disparities.

    April 23 - Macon, GA | Location: Crate X Coworking Space — 551 Cherry Street, Macon, GA
    • ​4:00 - 6:00 p.m. ET: Local canvassing
    • 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. ET: Documentary preview screening, panel discussion, mixer for minority & small business owners, wellness checks.

    April 24 - Albany, GA | Location: C&H Event Center -– 2310 West Gordon Avenue, Albany, GA
    • 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. ET: Documentary preview screening, panel discussion, healthcare fair

    April 25 - Tallahassee, FL | Location: Neighborhood Medical Center — 872 West Orange Avenue, Tallahassee, FL
    • ​1:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET: Local canvassing, documentary preview screening, health and wellness checks, party with purpose.
    • 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. ET: Screening discussion led by FAMU medical students

    For more information and to join the conversation on closing the coverage gap, visit ACS CAN’s we​bsite​.


  • ACS CAN NC volunteer introduces President Biden at local event

    ACS CAN North Carolina volunteer Lori Kelley introduced President Joe Biden and shared her personal journey of navigating the Medicaid coverage gap alongside him and Vice President Kamala Harris during a recent Affordable Care Act (ACA) event at the John Chavis Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Pictured above are: ACS CAN State & Local Outreach Manager Dustin Sergent; ACS CAN North Carolina Volunteer Lori Kelley; and ACS CAN Senior Outreach Manager of State & Local Campaigns Tomica Smith.

    The event took place just after the 14th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act and the first anniversary of the signing of North Carolina Medicaid expansion legislation. ACS CAN played a key role in the passage of both pieces of legislation.

    Lori, who is from Harrisburg, North Carolina, was diagnosed in 2008 with a progressive eye disease that limited her ability to function in daily activities, such as driving and going to work. After being locked out of affordable health care for 16 years, she had to delay screenings and receiving medical attention for her health issues.

    After North Carolina Medicaid expansion enrollment opened in December 2023, ACS CAN’s State and Local Campaigns Medicaid team ran a statewide Facebook advertisement campaign in North Carolina to collect stories from individuals who successfully enrolled. Lori eagerly responded to one of the ads after wondering if she would qualify for Medicaid expansion. She later applied with confidence and was thrilled to receive a letter stating she was enrolled in Medicaid.

    When the White House contacted ACS CAN to inquire if testimonials were available from individuals who were benefiting from Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, Lori’s story was one of many shared with White House personnel and she was later selected to introduce President Biden at the North Carolina ACA event. Lori’s introduction not only set the stage for President Biden’s address, but also served as a powerful testament to the resilience, courage, and determination of individuals like her who continue to advocate tirelessly for access to equitable health care.

    “Because of Medicaid expansion and the tireless advocacy work to close the gap, now I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay for surgery or the routine care that I need," Lori said. “I have peace of mind now. I know there are millions like me with similar stories. I am truly grateful for the blessing that this is and continues to be for myself and so many others.”

    As a mother of three and grandmother of six, Lori's presence on such a significant platform exemplifies the invaluable role of storytelling in advocacy and policymaking. By sharing her personal experience, she not only elevated the conversation surrounding health care reform, but also amplified the voices of countless others who find themselves in similar circumstances.

    Visit pbs.org to watch the ACA event. To learn more about how ACS CAN is working to close the Medicaid coverage gap for all, visit Medicaid Covers US | American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

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