NJ Legislative Wrap Up

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N.J. lawmakers say it’s a wrap but some say they could work during the summer break
Trenton, NJ (July 6, 2011) –The 2010-2011 New Jersey State Legislative Session wrapped up its work, and is now on a partial summer recess. In the Garden State the legislature session is not over until January 2012.  Many state legislators up for election this fall (40 State Senators and 80 Assembly Members).

“The American Cancer Society is pleased that Governor Christie and lawmakers are willing to support cancer screening by maintaining state funding for the NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection Program (NJ CEED)”, said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “Despite this important accomplishment, policymakers left unaddressed important cancer issues, like the tanning bed ban and the establishment of a health insurance exchange.  We look forward to working with lawmakers to tackle these issues when they reconvene.”

American Cancer Society 2010-2011 Legislative Priorities and their status:

Budget:    Victory
The budget for fiscal year 2012, saw funding maintained for vital cancer programs-- in this tight budget year, which saw substantial cuts in funding, we were pleased to see that NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection ("NJ CEED") funding was maintained at just over $6 million annually.  This program provides low-income men and women with breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer screenings.  In addition funding for the Office of Cancer Control and Prevention ("OCCP") was maintained at just over $1 million.

Indoor Tanning:     Substantial Progress
In the last few weeks of the session before the recess, we saw substantial progress in this legislation, which would ban teens under 18 from using tanning beds.  The legislation was passed by both the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, along with the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in mid-June.  During the last week of June, it was passed by the full Senate (in a 22-7 squeaker).  We will now work to have the bill posted for a vote in the NJ Assembly when the legislature reconvenes.

Oral Chemotherapy Parity: Progress
We are happy to report that this legislation was voted out of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, with American Cancer Society support.  This legislation would improve cancer patients' access to appropriate therapeutic treatment by reducing out of pocket costs for oral chemotherapy.  We will work to move this legislation through the full Assembly and Senate when the legislature reconvenes.

Health Insurance Exchange: Progress
In addition, the Christie Administration has accepted the $1 million federal planning grant, and used it to create a Working Group of government representatives, along with hiring the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy ("Center") to conduct a series of Stakeholder forums from interested groups, to gather input on how the exchanges should look.  The advocacy team has participated in two Stakeholder Forums to offer input from the cancer perspective on how the exchanges should look in New Jersey, and advocated for strong exchange legislation which will benefit cancer patients and their families.

Reports from the Stakeholder Forums will be issued by the Center this summer, and your advocacy team will continue to advocate for strong health insurance exchange legislation in New Jersey. 

Gemson Award:
Before the session recessed for the summer,, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) gave one of its 2nd Annual Donald A. Gemson Cancer Prevention Public Policy Awards to Dr. Fred Jacobs, MD JD, former NJ Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and current Chair of NJ Breathes.  Dr. Jacobs was well-deserving of this honor, having served as NJ Health and Senior Services Commissioner during 2004-07, and was instrumental in having then Governor Codey sign NJ's smoke-free air act making all workplaces including restaurants and bars in NJ, smoke-free.

 In attendance at the Award Ceremony at the Short Hills Hilton on June 23rd were members of the ACS Eastern Division Board, noted corporate leaders, and former Governor Dick Codey.

For more information about any of the issues above or to learn how you can get involved with ACS advocacy efforts, please call 1-800-227-2345 or log onto acscan.org/nj.

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.



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