With Congress returning to Capitol Hill after their August recess, we are ready to use our collective power to continue to push our cancer priorities forward before year end. Over the past two weeks, we launched an exciting new advertising campaign for ACS CAN, "Fight Cancer: Make Time." The goal of this campaign is to raise the patient voice and show lawmakers that by prioritizing cancer, they are giving more people more time — a chance to live longer through game-changing advancements in detection and treatment to enjoy more of life’s precious moments. Our first ads focused on advocating to support a Medicare reimbursement pathway for Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) legislation, once FDA-approved and clinical benefit is shown. The ads ran in the New York Times and in other publications in New York City, California, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada urging key lawmakers to cosponsor and pass the bill. Our ads generated more than 13 million impressions online, on social media and through print distribution. See a sample here.
I am excited to share that we will soon launch another round of compelling new ads making our appropriations ask clear to Congress, just in time for our annual Leadership Summit & Lobby Day (LS&LD)! We are thrilled to welcome nearly 700 advocates to Washington, DC from September 17-20 to take over the Hill to meet and lobby lawmakers directly.
LS&LD accomplishes two goals. First, it’s an opportunity to connect volunteers to one another and invest in their advocacy skills development and critical issue training. It’s also a strategic advancement of our federal legislative agenda by making specific asks of members of Congress on Lobby Day. Our three priority asks this year are centered on increased cancer research funding, passage of MCED legislation and passage of the Prostate Screening for HIM Act, an ask critical to giving individuals at high risk access to prostate cancer screening without cost sharing. We will be focused on gaining support for this legislation, as a key focus, in tandem with Prostate Cancer Awareness month.
LS&LD will kick off Sunday, September 17 in the evening with our annual National Advocacy Leadership Awards Dinner honoring the remarkable work of our volunteers and colleagues since last September. Monday is the Leadership Summit: a full day of keynotes, general sessions and breakouts to prepare for Hill visits with lawmakers urging support for our federal priorities. The annual CAN Opener, our ticketed dinner and dancing fundraiser, is on Monday night. Tuesday is Lobby Day when our volunteers and their staff partners will spend the majority of the day on Capitol Hill. That night, participants will gather to honor and remember our loved ones at the Hope Walk – our display of Lights of Hope at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall. Finally, on Wednesday we will round out with the President’s Recognition Breakfast followed by sessions and the closing lunch keynote.
I invite you to follow along with what will be a rewarding few days in the fight against cancer through the #CancerLobbyDay hashtag on social media. Please be sure to amplify on your own channels. I look forward to sharing highlights in a Special Edition Update and to seeing those traveling to DC in less than two weeks.
Thanks as always for your support,
Lisa Lacasse, President, ACS CAN
BrightEdge Annual Report
I’d like to share more about the American Cancer Society’s venture capital and impact arm, BrightEdge. I encourage you all to learn more about this mission support and impact effort where promising private sector cancer solutions receive investment to further our impact in fighting cancer. I am proud to serve on BrightEdge’s Impact Committee along with other ACS Executive Team members and to support our former ACS CAN Board member Alice Pomponio as its leader. BrightEdge LLC, just released its annual report and its investments have been estimated to have the potential to improve the lives of more than 1.5 million patients and their families.
In 2022 BrightEdge invested in four new companies which develop innovations to improve access to smoking cessation programs, early cancer detection for minority populations, clinical trials that promote equitable representation, and cost-effective treatment options for blood cancer. Across its 18 portfolio companies, BrightEdge has invested $25 million since it was created in 2019. These companies have also collectively raised more than $3.1 billion for their cancer-fighting innovations. Read more in the recently published annual report.
BrightEdge will also host its 2023 Summit on Investing and Innovating for Impact in Cancer, November 7-8 in Cambridge, MA Reach out to Amy Berg if you are interested in attendance.
In case you missed it:
Lights of Hope 2023 fundraisers have been hard at work around the country! We are grateful to each and every volunteer that takes the time each year to participate. Our digital team spoke to seven incredible volunteers about what Lights of Hope means to them. Read more.
On September 19, we are celebrating the 13th anniversary of Lights of Hope. We expect to display 10,000 Lights of Hope on site in Washington, DC, and more than 65,000 lights across the country. In addition to our Hope Walk in DC, ACS CAN volunteers continue to hold hundreds of Lights of Hope events nationwide. For those new to ACS CAN, each Light of Hope represents a loved one's cancer story—a survivor, someone in treatment, someone who passed from cancer, or a cancer caregiver. This event is a visual reminder to all elected officials of the strength of our collective voice and our role in this cancer fight – as well as a critical fundraiser for ACS CAN's public policy advocacy agenda. You can still get involved by raising funds and donating to Lights of Hope.
I was thrilled to join my ACS and ACS CAN colleagues at ACS’s Partnering For Life (PFL) event in Martha’s Vineyard in August. PFL is an initiative that works to spread awareness about cancer risk, prevention and early detection in the Black community. ASC CAN cosponsored the event and Congressman Troy Carter, (D-LA), a lead sponsor for PSA Screening for HIM, provided remarks centered on addressing the disproportionate cancer burden in the Black community and specifically prostate cancer. Congresswoman Nikema Williams ( D-GA) also attended the event along with other elected officials. A big thank you to ACS CAN Board members Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard and Dave Ford for their participation.
Earlier that week in Martha's Vineyard, our VP of Federal Affairs, Tammy Boyd, participated in a panel with Ramcess Jean-Louis, Pfizer's Global Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer and Angela Riemer, Pfizer's Vice President, Global Policy and Public Affairs, Oncology. The panel highlighted data related to prostate cancer and the importance of education and screening for black men and high-risk individuals.
Young Adult Spotlight: For International Youth Day in August, we featured one of star advocates and summer interns, Sam Keimweiss to talk about how ACS CAN is currently engaging young people on cancer fighting issues, and what we can learn from our younger generations. Read more.
Federal and Judicial Advocacy Updates
The Biden Administration released the first list of 10 drugs for Medicare price negotiation, including Imbruvica, a cancer drug used to treat certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. We made the following statement: “We remain supportive of the Administration in taking a critical step to ensure prescription drugs are affordable for all cancer patients. Affordability is a leading barrier for many with cancer who face some of the highest disease costs… It is imperative that policies that promote affordability continue to similarly prioritize innovation.” Read more.
ACS CAN and ACS filed an amicus curiae (or friend-of-the-court) brief in the case of Haller v. Health and Human Services (HHS) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of patient protection provisions of the No Surprises Act (NSA) being challenged in the case. The amicus brief provides extensive scientific research from ACS and other institutions on the high costs of cancer that lead to financial hardship, worse patient outcomes and higher chances of mortality. We released the following statement: “We continue to advocate for changes to the health care system that make cancer treatment more affordable for patients and their families, including protecting patients from receiving surprise bills for unexpected out-of-network care that are prohibited by the No Surprises Act (NSA). Read more.
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume (D-Md. 7th) recently announced the introduction of the Henrietta Lacks Congressional Gold Medal Act, legislation that would posthumously award Henrietta Lacks the Congressional Gold Medal for her substantial contributions to medicine. Lacks, a Maryland resident, died from cervical cancer in 1951. During her cancer treatment, Lacks’ cells were taken without her knowledge or consent and have been used to develop some of modern medicine’s most important breakthroughs, including treatments for cancer. Read our statement.
State and Local Updates
In Hawaii the ACS CAN team has been working to amplify ACS’s support for cancer patients during the crisis in Maui. Laura Creider, ACS Development Director, was featured on KITV4 Island News sharing resources for patients including the Hope Lodge in Honolulu.
Tobacco retailers in Bakersfield, California are now required to apply for a license and pay licensing fees as part of a comprehensive tobacco retail licensing ordinance holding retailers accountable for following state and local tobacco laws, including the statewide law that ended the sale of flavored tobacco products.
In Idaho Vice State Lead Ambassador Anita Sloan, melding two of her passions, finished an Ironman competition in Finland to represent and raise funds for ACS CAN. She wrote this on her Instagram “70.3 world champs! What an experience! ... even with illness + injury going into race day then a fall in last 200m, nothing was going to stop this ironwoman from the finish line.” A big thanks to Anita for keeping our mission at the forefront of this race.
In Alaska, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed legislation that will extend postpartum Medicaid eligibility for important insurance coverage for those who have recently given birth. This exciting development will improve health outcomes and access to screening for cancer and chronic disease.
In North Carolina, the General Assembly continues to negotiate a biennial budget, the passage which is necessary for the implementation of Medicaid expansion, a hard-fought legislative victory for ACS CAN and its public health allies this year to extend health care coverage to some 600,000 individuals.
In Alabama, while building the support of lawmakers, hospitals, insurers, and key constituent groups, ACS CAN continues to aggressively lobby Governor Kay Ivey, who has the power to unilaterally expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to approximately 300,000 additional individuals caught in the coverage gap.
Advocacy in the News - Highlights
News-Medical Life Sciences - Adult cancer diagnoses reduced by half in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S
U.S. News - When Cancer Strikes Twice, Black Americans Face Higher Death Rates
The Black Enterprise - Black Patients More Likely to Die After Second Primary Cancer Diagnosis Than White Peers
Cancer Health - Members of Congressional Black Caucus Call on FDA to Finalize Menthol Flavor Rule by August 23 Deadline
The Cancer Letter - More than 500 bills restricting trans medical care threaten LGBTQ+ people with cancer
Everyday Health - Clinical Trials for Cancer: How to Sidestep the 7 Most Common Barriers to Participation
Cancer Health - Medicare and Medicaid to Reimburse for Cancer Patient Navigation
ABC News - Georgia Medicaid program with work requirement off to slow start even as thousands lose coverage
Cancer Health - Wildfires Worsen Unique Challenges of Hawaiians Living With Cancer