Ohio falling short on cancer policies

Michelle Zimmerman - ACS Cancer Action Network, Inc.

Ohio is falling short when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer, according to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.

“This report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But we have the power to make a difference for Ohioans immediately by implementing proven cancer-fighting policies,” said Jeff Stephens, Ohio government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

This year alone in Ohio, 68,470 people will be diagnosed with cancer. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment.

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer-screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors.

The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and whether it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark, and red shows where states are falling short.

How Ohio Measures Up: Increased Access to Medicaid — Green. Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding — Red. Access to Palliative Care — Yellow. Pain Policy — Yellow. Cigarette Tax Rates — Yellow. Smoke-free Laws — Green. Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding — Red. Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services — Green. And Indoor Tanning Device Restrictions — Red.

Since Ohio expanded Medicaid, more than 700,000 Ohioans have access to cancer prevention and screenings. The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network is concerned with campaign rhetoric and the potential threat to Medicaid expansion what that means for cancer patients. We must maintain the current standards of Medicaid eligibility for access to care and medical support for hard-working Ohioans.

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our Ohio legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent and treat cancer,” said Barb Diver, cancer survivor and state lead ambassador. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure Ohioans have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”

To view the complete report and details on Ohio’s grades, please visit www.acscan.org .

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, 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.

It works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard.

Michelle Zimmerman

ACS Cancer Action Network, Inc.