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Indiana Falling Short on Policies to Prevent and Fight Cancer

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July 21, 2009 – According to a new report, Indiana is falling short for

its legislative efforts to combat cancer. How Do You Measure up?: A

Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence

and Mortality evaluates each state’s legislative activity on six issues

key to winning the fight against cancer. Developed by the American

Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy affiliate

of the American Cancer Society, the report finds that Indiana measured

up to benchmarks in one of the six issues.

“Our state legislators can play an important role in the war against

cancer by passing legislation that can help reduce the toll this disease

takes on our state and save lives,” said Judy Stewart, American Cancer

Society Director of State Government Relations for the Great Lakes

Division. “We all have a responsibility to fight back against a disease

that kills 12,820 people in Indiana each year by enacting laws and

policies that eliminate barriers for the proper diagnosis, treatment and

care of cancer patients.”

How Do You Measure Up? details state efforts around health care

coverage, prevention and quality of life measures. The report measures

state policies (as a result of a legislative vote or a ballot

initiative) on six specific issues: breast and cervical cancer early

detection program funding; access to care for the uninsured; colorectal

screening coverage laws; smoke-free laws; pain management; and tobacco

taxes. A color-coded system is used to identify how well a state is

doing. Green represents the benchmark position with well-balanced

policies and good practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward

the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.

In addition to the specific areas that were rated, the report also

examines how states are measuring up on issues such as the affordability

of health coverage on the individual market or through Medicaid for

low-income populations. It also details state efforts to fund tobacco

prevention and cessation programs and as well as state investments in

nutrition and physical activity promotion.

“As advocates, we have the responsibility to educate the public on the

many ways to prevent and fight cancer effectively at the state level,

but we cannot do it unless state and local policymakers take action,”

said Patty Avery, Indiana’s State Lead Ambassador. “In most cases, the

solutions we offer will save the state millions of dollars in health

care costs and increased worker productivity. In many cases, it costs

the state little or nothing to do the right thing.”

While there is still much work to be done, the Indiana legislature has

made progress in some areas by passing several bills that allow Hoosiers

increased access to the cancer prevention and treatment they need. HEA

1382, a bill that allows for routine care coverage of cancer clinical

trial legislation, passed. Additionally, Indiana is only the second

state to pass legislation (SEA 437) which requires coverage of oral

chemo on parity with intravenous chemotherapy. Finally, the state passed

legislation (SEA 554) which loosens restrictions on the state’s Breast

and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) and will allow more women to be

treated under the program. However, the state failed to enact

comprehensive legislation that would have made all workplaces, including

bars, restaurants and casinos smokefree.

How Indiana measures up:

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding Yellow

The Uninsured Yellow

Colorectal Screening Coverage Laws

Green

Smokefree Laws Red

Pain Management Yellow

Tobacco Taxes Yellow

Throughout the past year, state legislatures across the country have

made great advances in the fight against cancer. In the last year, 12

states and the District of Columbia have passed or implemented tobacco

tax increases, bringing to 46 the total number of states with tobacco

tax increases since 2002. Six more states implemented comprehensive

smoke-free laws, protecting workers and patrons from the hazards of

secondhand smoke. And many states are working on policies and programs

to reduce cancer risk related to poor nutrition, lack of physical

activity and obesity.

In addition, many state legislatures fought hard to preserve coverage

for lifesaving cancer screenings and treatments and to stave off

attempts to cut state funds that support these programs, such as the

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

In 2009, more than 1.4 million people in the United States will be

diagnosed with cancer and more than 562,000 people will die from the

disease. In Indiana this year, 31,320 will be diagnosed with cancer and

another 12,820 will die of the disease.

For state-by-state details or a copy of the complete report, please

visit www.acscan.org.

The American Cancer Society’s Great Lakes Division is comprised of staff

and more than 135,000 volunteers throughout Indiana and Michigan who

are dedicated to saving lives and creating more birthdays by helping

people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back

against cancer. For more information, visit www.cancer.org.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American

Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions

designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works

to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top

national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to

fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices

heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

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