Monday, October 12, 2015

Notebook Page 8 October 2015

September was a full month for ACS CAN in Michigan. The Michigan legislature made it's way back from its summer recess and the with national Leadership Summit and Lobby Day ahead, the ACS CAN team from Michigan was in full swing legislatively on both state and federal fronts.

In Michigan legislation was introduced to regulate bio-similar pharmaceuticals. Biologics are a classification of drugs that are commonly used for the treatment of cancer along with arthritis and other conditions. These drugs are created through a completely different process from your common pharmaceuticals like aspirin. Biologics use biologic materials to create the drug which leaves it extremely hard to recreate into a generic form. They have created drugs called bio-similars which gets extremely close to the original biologic composition but not quite.

These drugs are so new that regulations from state to state have not been created yet. ACSCAN is working with other interested parties to create legislation and regulations that would allow for the switching out of the biologic to a bio-similar but require that the pharmacist contact physician to notify them that switch has been made. The House Health Policy committee will be taking testimony on two bills dealing with the issue. We support House Bill 4812 from Representative John Bizon, a physician from Battle Creek.

Also in September ACSCAN made it's way to Washington D.C. for it's annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day.

The Michigan delegation to the national Leadership Summit and Lobby Day was very successful this year.  We held 12 meetings with congressional offices along with meetings with Senator Gary Peters and Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Accomplishments on the Hill

After excellent meetings with our Congressional members, we were able to get verbal commitments from Rep. Dave Trott and Rep. Debbie Dingell to co-sponsor H.R. 1220, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screenings Act, and H.R. 3119, the Palliative Care & Hospice Education Act. Additionally, we were able to thank Senators Stabenow and Peters for co-sponsoring S. 624, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screenings Act.  The Senators signed onto the bills earlier this year after meeting with our volunteers in Michigan.

Advocacy Awards
Michigan was well represented at the annual national advocacy awards dinner.   Michigan ACT Lead Jennifer Varner was awarded the national ACT Lead of the Year Award for her outstanding work over the last year, and over the last few years, with advocacy and program integration.
Jennifer’s Award was highlighted in a recent news article in Midland.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder won the National Distinguished Advocacy Award for his support of ACS CAN priorities over the past few years.  Governor Snyder spearheaded the charge to expand Medicaid in Michigan with his Healthy Michigan Plan.  Over 600,000 Michigan workers now have access to health insurance and life-saving cancer screenings through this plan.  Additionally, Governor Snyder took a firm, and very public, stand against e-cigarettes by heeding the call of ACS CAN volunteers to veto misleading e-cigarette legislation.  This legislation would create a special class for these products and possibly prevent them from all tobacco control laws.  Governor Snyder was not able to attend but did record a video accepting the award which was played during the Leadership Summit.

Finally, Matt Phelan was awarded the Grassroots Professional of the Year award.

Lights of Hope
This year’s Lights of Hope ceremony saw significant rain, but that only showed the vigilance of cancer advocates as they ventured out into the weather to honor those that are battling cancer or have lost their battle.  There were a record 22,000 bags around the Capitol Reflecting Pool this year and thanks to some fantastic volunteers, Michigan collected around $12,000 in Lights of Hope donations!  The Lakeshore Division ranked second in Lights of Hope donations and Michigan ranked 4th among the states.  We only trailed the mega-states, Texas, California and Florida.    Michigan volunteer Jennifer Belaire was the top online fundraiser in the nation this year for Lights of Hope collecting over $2,000 in online contributions.

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