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February Advocacy Update

​Read a message from ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse.

We have already had a very busy 2023 – only one month in! With all 50 states coming into session this year, the start of the 118th Congress and new House leadership, there is much happening to ensure we build upon the impressive mission impact of 2022. We’re not wasting any time elevating our voices to lawmakers nationwide, launching a campaign strongly urging Congress to preserve and increase cancer research funding.

During the State of the Union address last night, the president underlined the Administration’s commitment to the Cancer Moonshot initiative and highlighted the need for bipartisan support to achieve the ambitious goal of reducing cancer deaths by 50% by 2050. ACS and ACS CAN applaud the president's focus on ending cancer as we know it. We will continue our support of Moonshot, calling for lawmakers to enact laws and policies that will promote progress from prevention through survivorship. 

In the days leading up to the president’s address, we published a piece in Politico directed to members of Congress. Our position is clear: Cancer is a nonpartisan issue. Cancer research funding must be prioritized and increased. Any reduction in funding could slow or halt the development of cutting-edge research. ACS CAN will be persistent in elevating patient voices to remind Congress of the critical role they play in the fight against cancer. 

We will continue throughout the year with an “always-on” approach to communicate with policymakers and elected officials across the country. Our 2023 federal priorities include increasing access to and affordability of care, cancer prevention, early detection, and screening, including an increased emphasis on prostate cancer, and equitable access to innovation and clinical trials. Our state and local priorities include increasing access to care through Medicaid expansion and other critical policy interventions to lower barriers, tobacco control, biomarker testing coverage, and funding for breast and cervical cancer early detection programs. We will also be engaging all stakeholders to advocate patient navigation funding. And of course our advocacy will be executed through a deliberate health equity lens to focus on reducing the cancer burden for all communities.

Thank you for your support as we work to together to amplify these priorities to end cancer as we know it, for everyone.

Celebrating Black History Month

In honor of Black History month, ACS CAN will feature social media and online content that highlights the importance of health equity and access to cancer care, raising awareness about cancer disparities in the Black community, and spotlighting the work of our Black volunteers. We will also honor advancements made by Black scientists and advocates in the cancer research and advocacy realm. 

ACS CAN’s Black Volunteer Caucus will host a Fireside Chat, “Prostate Cancer's Unequal Burden in the Black Community: Saving Ourselves Through Patient-Centered Solutions," to discuss the unequal burden of prostate cancer in the Black community. Please join us on Tuesday, February 28 from 11 am – 12 pm eastern. Registration is required. Register here.

Help us amplify and join us in celebrating Black history and culture this month and every month. Start by sharing this LinkedIn post and following us on ACS CAN on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn and Instagram.

Volunteer Leadership Summit Highlights

Last week I had the pleasure of joining members of ACS and ACS CAN’s leadership team in Dallas, Texas to meet with volunteer leaders from across the country. The purpose of the summit is to invigorate and empower our volunteer leaders with ideas to affect change across the cancer continuum. ACS CAN’s role was to give leaders the tools they need to fully integrate our work into their mission execution plans and engage them in own legislative advocacy.

During a series of discussions, I had the opportunity to give kudos and appreciation to our area boards and highlight ways they’ve engaged in advocacy activities in their communities. From participating in lobby days, using their grass tops influence to encourage vetoes of bad tobacco bills, to being President's Circle donors, leaders across the country are furthering our mission impact.

A special thanks to ACS CAN Board members who were in attendance: Kay Coleman, David Ford, Dr. Roy Jensen, Maureen Mann, Scarlott Mueller, Phil O’Brien, Dr. Omar Rashid, and Dr. Bruce Waldholtz. A very big congratulations to David Ford who received the Volunteer Leadership Award, presented to a volunteer who has provided distinguished service to ACS at all levels of the enterprise.

Facts and Figures Leads to IMPACT

In January, the American Cancer Society released Cancer Statistics, 2023, the organization's annual report on cancer facts and trends. As I’m sure you’ve read, key findings include a 33% decline in cancer mortality, and cervical cancer rates decreasing 65% from 2012-19 for women ages 20-24 – aligning with the uptake of HPV vaccination. The report also highlights an alarming rise in prostate cancer, including more advanced disease, with the highest incidence and mortality in Black men. 

To address disparities in prostate cancer incidence and mortality ACS CAN helped launch the American Cancer Society’s IMPACT (Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together) initiative. We joined ACS for IMPACT’s launch event at Howard University (HU), hosted by ACS Board member and HU president Dr. Wayne A.I. Fredrick and our CEO Dr. Karen Knudsen. The event had much support and we were thrilled that Louisiana Congressman Troy Carter and New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne Jr. joined us to lend their voices to the importance of prostate cancer screening and treatment. The event also featured our very own Director of Federal Relations for Cancer Prevention, James Williams, who shared his prostate cancer story.

ACS CAN will activate on this important initiative by advocating for state and federal policies that remove barriers to prostate cancer screening and treatment. We will continue to work with partners at the state level to remove barriers to prostate cancer screening, including cost sharing if an individual and provider deem screening is necessary based on shared decision making. Federally we’re advocating for the Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening for High-risk Insured Men Act (PSA Screening for HIM Act), legislation that would give men at high-risk for prostate cancer improved access to screenings, We look forward to working with our partners to get a strengthened PSA Screening for HIM Act re-introduced and passed in the 118th Congress to remove barriers to PSA screening for high-risk individuals.

New Report: States Continue to Shortchange Tobacco Prevention Programs, But Several Show a Welcome Increase

The report – “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement” – was released by the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative. We have issued joint annual reports since the November 1998 landmark legal settlement between 46 states and the major tobacco companies, which – along with individual settlements with four other states – required the companies to pay more than $246 billion over time as compensation for tobacco-related health care costs. 

Even as tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and youth e-cigarette use remains at high levels, this report highlights how too many states continue to shortchange programs designed to prevent kids from using tobacco products and help adults quit. A handful of states, though, have increased funding and set a positive example for other states to follow. Read the full press statement here.

State & Local Advances 

  • Ohio: In January we celebrated Gov. DeWine’s veto of HB 513, which would have restricted the authority of communities to pass local laws regulating the sale of tobacco products that are stronger than state law. Through 275 patch-through calls and 155 actions taken, our volunteers contributed to this important veto. The state also executed media advocacy tactics to publicly state our opposition to preemption and support the governor’s veto, earning over 100 mentions. The governor used our statistics during his press conference announcing his veto.  
  • California: Our team received funding approval from the CA Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program for 3 tobacco applications for nearly $2 million ($1.9M) over two years. Two grants will focus on Latino/Hispanic and African American populations. Our work will center on the adoption and implementation of tobacco retail licensing policies in multiple jurisdictions and engage priority populations in the San Francisco East Bay and Delta regions.  
  • New York: ACS CAN and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) released an analysis of the public health benefits & cost savings that New York can expect to see with the Governor’s proposed a $1.00 per pack cigarette tax increase --leading with saving over 15,300 lives. 

Advocacy in the News - Highlights

  • South Dakota Focus (SDPB), What's next for Medicaid expansion? 
  • The Reporter, PA Letter to editor: Legislators can bring hope to cancer patients  
  • Spectrum News NY: Anti-smoking advocates hope Hochul's tax plan will save lives  
  • CNN: Obamacare sign-ups soar to record 16.3 million for 2023  
  • Roll Call: NIH missing top leadership at start of a divided Congress. 
  • NY Daily News, NY: Ban menthol cigarettes and save Black lives  
  • ABC NewsCancer death rates down but racial disparities persist among Black men and women  
  • CNN HealthA double cancer diagnosis like Navratilova’s isn’t as rare as you might think. 
  • Gov. Mike DeWine vetoes bill that would block cities from stricter tobacco laws 
  • Honolulu Civil Beat, HIResearchers Hope Hawaii Lawmakers Fund Cancer Research This Year  

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