Below is a monthly message from Lisa A. Lacasse, president, ACS CAN:
The month of September is always near and dear to ACS CAN, as it brings about our two largest events: Leadership Summit & Lobby Day, and Lights of Hope.
This September holds particular meaning as we prepare to mark 20 years since ACS CAN was founded in 2001. It’s a bit surreal to reflect on what the past two decades have meant for ACS CAN: momentous growth, incredible impact, significant public policy and grassroots milestones, and countless fond memories with our volunteer advocates and colleagues. I am so grateful for each cancer patient and survivor, volunteer, staff member, partner, and elected official who has contributed to our mission.
More to follow in the coming weeks about how you can join in the celebration and honor ACS CAN’s legacy of meaningful impact. In the meantime, I hope you’ll mark your calendar for our 20th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 29, a free virtual event featuring fun trivia about ACS CAN’s past, present and future! RSVP here.
Lights of Hope Across America: Saturday, Sept. 18
ACS CAN’s signature fundraising event is just weeks away! Lights of Hope Across America will be celebrated in communities across the country with a livestreamed ceremony at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 18. This powerful event will feature volunteers displaying their lights in front yards, community parks and iconic landmarks across the country, in honor of all those we fight for. I’m excited to participate live from Washington, D.C. alongside ACS CAN Board Chair Sandi Cassese. Set your calendar reminder here.
I invite those of you who have yet to donate to dedicate a Lights of Hope bag to a loved one who has been touched by cancer and visit our website for more details on the live event and other ways to share this impactful fundraiser, including with the hashtag #LightsOfHope. This event raises critical funds that allows us to have even greater impact on the fight against cancer, so please donate.
#CancerLobbyDay: 2021 Leadership Summit & Lobby Day
We’ll close the month with our 15th annual Leadership Summit & Lobby Day (LS&LD), when our advocates will meet virtually with their members of Congress to do what they do best: urge elected officials to make cancer a national priority.
LS&LD will start on Sunday, Sept. 26 as we celebrate our anniversary, honor our Advocacy Award recipients and hear from staff and volunteer leadership including ACS CAN Board Chair Sandi Cassese. Tuesday, Sept. 29 will kick off with remarks from our CEO Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, as well as some of our National Distinguished Advocacy Award winners, before ACS CAN advocates spend the day meeting virtually with their lawmakers and their staff about issues critical to our cancer fight, including cancer research and prevention funding and increasing affordability of care. Volunteers will participate in multiple trainings leading up to the event to hone their advocacy skills in preparation for their virtual Hill day.
Visit our website for more event information, and follow the hashtag #CancerLobbyDay on social media to stay up-to-date on what will be an incredible few days in the fight against cancer.
August Recess Grassroots Activities
As is true every year, ACS CAN volunteers have been busy during Congress’ August recess, working to advance our federal policy priorities. Volunteers are submitting and asking questions at various Congressional townhalls related to our cancer advocacy agenda. Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) and Rep. Kai Kahele (HI-2) both answered our questions about making Affordable Care Act subsidies permanent to increase affordability of care for cancer patients.
President Biden Urges Capping Medicare Patient Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs
President Biden called on Congress to bring down patient prescription drug costs, including by establishing an annual cap on Medicare enrollees’ out-of-pocket expenses. ACS CAN appreciates this commitment to patient affordability and looks forward to working with the administration and lawmakers to identify ways to ease the financial burden of treatment, an issue of critical importance to cancer patients. Read our press statement here.
Bipartisan Legislation Would Make It Easier for All Patients to Participate in Clinical Trials
The DIVERSE Trials Act would increase racial, socioeconomic and geographic diversity in clinical trials and make it easier for all cancer patients to participate. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would help address health equity by allowing trial sponsors to reimburse patients for ancillary costs associated with trial participation, such as travel or lodging. ACS CAN strongly urges Congress to pass this legislation. Read our press statement here.
Upcoming Deadline: FDA to Grant or Deny Authorization of Sale for JUUL and other E-cigarette Products
Sept. 9 is a court-mandated deadline for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine whether new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be allowed to be sold in the U.S. In particular, ACS CAN and our public health partners submitted a letter to FDA in April, urging it to deny authorization of the sale of JUUL e-cigarette products that have been on the market for years, causing immeasurable damage to the public’s health. The letter asserts that evidence shows that JUUL’s marketing, use of flavors and high nicotine concentrations have greatly contributed to the youth tobacco epidemic. JUUL's products continue to have the largest share of the e-cigarette market.
After FDA issued its first denials of flavored e-cigarettes last week, ACS CAN strongly urged the agency to continue this approach for all flavored products, including menthol, and to enforce their decisions swiftly. Read our press statement here.
RSVP Now: Upcoming Virtual Events
- Congressional Briefing: Paid Family and Medical Leave – On Sept. 14, ACS CAN will join with partner organizations to host a virtual panel discussion for policymakers and their staff, “Paid Family and Medical Leave: A Critical Need for Patients and Their Caregivers.” This timely event takes place as Congress is expected to begin consideration of the upcoming reconciliation package, which could potentially include several ACS CAN priorities related to health care, including a national paid family and medical leave program. ACS CAN recently established a coalition of patient advocacy organizations and interested partners to advocate for paid family and medical leave for people with serious illnesses and caregivers. RSVP here for the virtual panel.
- Medicaid in the U.S. Territories – Our next Medicaid Covers US virtual event will be on September 30th and will focus on the role of Medicaid in the U.S. territories, particularly the program’s role in addressing health disparities and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. Inequitable funding of Medicaid in the territories have threatened access to care and funding for health systems. ACS CAN is doing a significant amount of work, including supporting legislation that would provide an extension on funding for Medicaid in U.S. territories that will expire on Sept. 30 if no action is taken. RSVP here for the virtual event.
State & Local Advances
- La Opinión, the nation’s most-read Spanish-language newspaper, published an op-ed authored by a Los Angeles pediatrician in partnership with ACS CAN, in support of our efforts urging the City Council to pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol.
- Illinois Gov. Pritzker signed into law legislation that will improve access to care for cancer patients by expanding coverage for biomarker testing, the first state to do so. ACS CAN helped with the successful bill passage by working closely with bill sponsors and activating our Illinois grassroots volunteers to make sure the legislature knew the law’s importance. Four million Illinoisans will have access to biomarker testing through Medicaid and state-regulated coverage, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
- Kentucky ACS CAN advocates successfully defeated a proposed cigar bar exemption amendment to the local Louisville smoke-free ordinance. Advocates had conducted volunteer calls to the Louisville Metro Council to share our opposition to the amendment and this was a huge win against Big Tobacco.
- The North Carolina House’s state budget included a proposal to establish a new revenue fund for the money the state received as part of a settlement with e-cigarette company JUUL. $21 million would be dedicated to protecting kids and teens from tobacco. ACS CAN applauded the historic move while urging for sustained, adequate funding for the state’s long-underfunded tobacco prevention and cessation program.
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