Friday, March 4, 2016

Notebook Page 13, March 2016

Last month, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released his official budget.  Unfortunately, Governor Snyder’s budget called for sustained funding for the state’s cancer prevention and tobacco prevention programs.  Governor Snyder also requested in his budget to use $720 million over 10 years from the tobacco master settlement agreement (MSA) to fix Detroit’s public school system.  ACS CAN does not support this move.  The Governor’s budget did not call for any increases in state revenue.

Work continues on Michigan’s campaign to raise tobacco taxes to fund prevention.  Our coalition called the Prevention Michigan Tobacco Free Campaign continues to grow.  We now have 24 groups on board including the major health organizations in the state.  Most recently, Michigan’s Prevention Network signed onto the campaign.

Recent gains with the Governor’s office toward support of a tobacco tax increase have been significantly delayed due to the water crisis in Flint.  The crisis in Flint is expected to distract the Governor’s office for the foreseeable future so our focus has now shifted towards the legislature. Michigan’s State Lead Ambassador, Phil Moilanen, will meet on March 4 with State Senator Mike Shirkey who is a key lawmaker in the State Senate. Action alerts will be going out to advocates throughout March and April leading up to Michigan’s Lobby Day.

Michigan’s annual Lobby Day will take place on April 19.  In addition to Lobby Day, we have added a Leadership Breakfast on the morning of the 19th.  This ACS CAN Leadership Breakfast will be a fundraising event geared towards high profile volunteers and ACS CAN partners.  Dr. Randy Hillard and Vicki Rakowski, RN have agreed to serve as honorary chairs for this event.  Members of the legislative leadership and key legislators related to health policy have been invited to the breakfast to talk with those in attendance.

The legislative issues, or asks, have been finalized for Michigan’s Lobby Day.  The day will focus on two major issues, raising the state’s tobacco taxes and creating oral chemotherapy parity to increase access to cancer drugs.

At Lobby day, we’ll be asking legislators to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 while bringing other tobacco products into parity with the cigarette tax to increase revenue.  We’ll also ask our legislators to invest $50 million of the new revenue created by this tax increase into our prevention programs.  Michigan’s Tobacco Prevention Program only receives $1.6 million in state funds annually while the Cancer Prevention Program only receives $500,000.  These amounts are far below the recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control.

In 2004, Michigan saw its last increase in tobacco taxes with the majority of the dollars either being absorbed in Medicaid or in education. The funding for prevention efforts such as tobacco and cancer prevention has dropped off significantly during that same time. Additionally, other tobacco products like chew and e-cigarettes have sky rocketed in usage. More and more of our youth are now trying emerging tobacco products because they’ve been told these products “aren’t as bad” as cigarettes or chew tobacco.

The other legislative issue, or ask, that we’ll address at Lobby day will be oral chemotherapy parity, or “fairness.” This issue has finally started to see some action in the Senate. Senate Bill 625 has been introduced and was brought up for a hearing in the Senate Insurance Committee last month. Senate Bill 625 ensures that patients facing cancer won’t have to pay a higher price for chemotherapy taken orally, as opposed to intravenously in a hospital.

Currently, 40 volunteers and 19 staff are registered for Michigan Lobby Day.  Registration will end on April 5.

This week, market teams were pressed to move Lobby Day recruitment to the top of their priorities.  The larger markets of Detroit and Grand Rapids have been goaled at 12 volunteers recruited while the smaller markets (Flint, Lansing, Ann Arbor) have a goal of 6 volunteers.

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