|Michigan's Cancer Advocates at the Capitol.|
Spring has finally made it's way back to Michigan. With the arrival of spring also means that volunteers from around the state will start to make their way to Lansing to talk to our lawmakers about issues that are important to all of those who face cancer every day. Lets review the happenings of April in Lansing:
Michigan Lobby Day a Big Success!
On April 19, 119 ACS CAN advocates and staff met with state legislators for our annual Michigan Lobby Day. Volunteers held 65 total meetings with legislators or their staff. This year’s Lobby Day had over 30 more volunteers than last year and you could feel the electricity in the room.
This year’s Lobby Day focused on two policy areas: 1) support for oral chemotherapy fairness legislation and 2) increasing Michigan’s tobacco taxes and using this new revenue to fund Cancer and Tobacco Prevention Programs.
|Phil Moilenan meeting with Rep. Maturen.|
The day was highlighted by some great speakers. Cliff Douglas, Vice President of Tobacco Control for the American Cancer Society and Carter Steger, Senior Director of State and Local Campaigns for ACS CAN gave the keynote address about the harms of all tobacco products. Dr. Randy Hillard gave an inspiring talk about his battle with stomach cancer and how oral chemotherapy was available to him, but isn’t available to everyone because of its cost.
|Michigan's Volunteer of the|
Year Sandra Westover.
|Hailey Urbach speaking at |
This year, ACS CAN awarded Sandra Westover from Frederic, MI with the annual Volunteer of the Year award for her outstanding contributions to ACS CAN and the American Cancer Society.
As a result of our Lobby Day, the Senate Insurance Committee passed our oral chemotherapy fairness legislation by a 7-0 the following day. Our advocates pushed legislators to act and they responded.
As you can see from above the Senate Insurance committee passed out Senate bill 625 or the oral chemotherapy fairness legislation to the full Senate. It was thanks to the great work of our volunteers that helped the legislation have a smooth transition out of committee and over to the Senate floor. We will continue to monitor the legislation has it moves through the Senate. The expectation is that the legislation will move the first week in May.
Budgets are also on the move in both chambers. This year's budgeting process is more straight forward with elections looming for House members in August and November. The two main funding lines that ACS CAN concentrates on in the budget are the tobacco and cancer prevention lines in the Health and Wellness Fund. Years past this fund has been used as a funding football but with this being an election year the funding for those programs has not been touched. This is a good first step in the movement of the budget. We will be watching now for the middle of May when both the House and Senate Fiscal agencies and the State Treasurer come together to finalize the expected revenue for the coming fiscal year. That will tell us whether the state needs to cut or if they will have more money than they expected.
Colorectal cancer screening legislation is gaining momentum in Congress. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Act is legislation supported by ACS CAN to close a loophole in Medicare. Many seniors are going in to get their regular colonoscopy, but it is standard practice that a doctor removes any suspicious polyp during the procedure. We know that removing these polyps, saving lives. The problem is that some seniors are getting bills in the mail after the procedure because the polyp removal is not considered a “screening”. All screenings must be fully covered by insurance. We are working hard to close this loophole to save more lives. To find out more about this legislation, please visit http://www.acscan.org/coloncancer.
As always don't be afraid to reach out to us. Go to our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AcsCanMichigan for all of the latest updates and action going on in Michigan.