How cancer legislation can impact prevention, treatment and cost of care
Cancer might not seem all that political; after all, it is an equal-opportunity illness that can impact anyone no matter their age, race, ethnicity, religion or beliefs. Cancer doesn’t care who you voted for or if you voted at all.
So how does cancer tie to politics?
The answer is that cancer researchers, in their search for new information to understand the disease and develop new treatments, discover ways the public can be protected from cancer-causing substances in the environment or best equipped to fight cancer should the need arise.
"Passing statewide policies that help prevent and treat cancer is critical to building healthy communities," explains Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "Through advocacy and public education, we aim to make cancer a top priority for public officials at every level of government."
The ACS CAN has priorities each year based on needs in Michigan and other states. Additionally, researchers across the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center advocate for patients of all cancer types at the statewide and national level.
Here are just a few examples of how cancer experts are getting political on behalf of our patients.
ACS CAN 2020 priorities for Michigan
1. Oral Chemotherapy Fairness Legislation would ensure patients could take oral chemotherapy if prescribed without paying more out-of-pocket costs than for intravenous chemotherapy.
2. Tobacco 21 Legislation
Since nearly 95% of people begin smoking before the age of 21, federal legislation changed in December 2019, upping the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. ACS CAN remains involved at the state level to fight for effective enforcement of the new law, including taxes applied to all tobacco products, active enforcement by retailers and strong tobacco 21 policies that educate the public and retailers.
Just a few examples of Rogel Cancer Center experts getting political
Renee W. Pinsky, M.D., a breast radiologist, advocated for women in Michigan to be notified if a mammogram shows they have dense breasts. She’s also pushed for better education of patients and health providers about the risks associated with dense breasts. She continues work aiming to provide women with personalized and precise screening results, as well as mandating insurance companies cover supplemental screening.
Gary Hammer, M.D., Ph.D., who takes care of people with the ultra-rare adrenal cancer, co-wrote national legislation aiming to provide research and clinical support for those with rare cancers and to develop a program that provided access to centers of excellence for these cancers. As it moves and transforms through the legislative process, he continues work to ensure that patients with rare cancers have access to treatment no matter the distance.