Throughout the year, ACS CAN and its volunteers work to impact the cancer burden by making sure lawmakers are aware of the issues that matter to them at all levels of government. September marks one of the most powerful and exciting times of the year as we gather hundreds of our advocates in the nation’s capital as part of our annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day.
Looking Back on 2012
I can hardly believe 2012 is coming to an end. As the new year approaches, I always like to think back on the accomplishments and significant events of the past 12 months. To say ACS CAN was busy this year is an understatement. We had a great year, and I want to share some of our highlights with you. Thanks to efforts by ACS CAN staff and volunteers, Congress appropriated a nearly $300 million increase in research funding for NIH for this past year (FY12), amidst a tight budget environment. With negotiations currently in full force among members of Congress and the administration over reducing the federal deficit, we are working hard to make sure cancer continues to be a top priority and funding is sustained for cancer research and prevention and early detection programs. As the largest funder of cancer research, the federal government is critical to this fight. Also this year, we continued our efforts to protect all Americans from the dangers of tobacco use. We welcomed the recent court ruling from a federal judge that ordered the tobacco companies to make strong corrective statements in nationwide ads to explain that they deliberately deceived the American public for decades about the health hazards of their deadly products. Our volunteers and staff were hard at work in the states too:
- With the strong support of the Society and ACS CAN, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law in July a $1 cigarette tax increase, bringing the tax to $1.98 a pack.
- The residents of North Dakota overwhelmingly voted for a comprehensive smoke-free law on Election Day, making North Dakota the 24th state with a smoke-free law covering all workplaces, bars and restaurants.
- Many local smoke-free ordinances passed in states without comprehensive smoke-free laws, including: Chatham County, Ga., North Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Indianapolis, Ind.
In June, we experienced a consequential day in the history of the fight against cancer when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. In doing so, the Court upheld numerous provisions that are critical to ensuring that people with cancer and other life-threatening chronic diseases can access quality, affordable health care. Since then, HHS has proposed several important regulations, including one on essential health benefits, which provide more details on how health coverage will be offered when the law is fully in effect. Much work remains at the state and federal level to implement crucial patient protections. ACS CAN is committed to work to ensure that those provisions work best for cancer patients, survivors and their families. One of our newest legislative initiatives, the advancement of legislation that addresses patients' quality of life, was propelled forward in July when two bills were introduced in Congress that aim to reduce suffering and improve the quality of life of patients by expanding access to palliative care. We also launched a new palliative care advertising campaign that received positive feedback from the Hill and the public. This year, ACS CAN also celebrated the implementation of a new set of nutrition standards for school meals that are intended to significantly improve nutritional quality. With evidence showing that nearly one-third of all cancer deaths are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity and being overweight and obese, these nutrition standards are an important part of the effort to prevent childhood obesity and cancer. Finally, in advance of the election, ACS CAN was successful in getting Democrat, Republican, Independent, and Libertarian candidates on the record to speak to what they'd do to impact the fight against cancer. Our elected officials have the ability to play an important role in bringing cancer under control as a major health problem by adopting laws and policies that help people fight the disease. ACS CAN's national voter education program, Cancer Votes, mobilized ACS CAN staff and volunteers across the country to pass out voter guides, post to Facebook and organize rallies, forums and bus tours to inform the public about candidates' stances on cancer issues. It was our largest and most successful voter education program yet! As you're making your new year's resolutions, why not pledge to join us in the fight against cancer? You can become an ACS CAN member, email your lawmakers about the importance of funding for cancer research or join us at one of our many events. Together, we can make 2013 even more successful than 2012.