Rhode Island Getting Mixed Reviews on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

PROVIDENCE – August 11, 2016 – Rhode Island is making progress when it comes to
supporting 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, Rhode Island measured up to policy recommendations in just six of the 10
issue areas ranked. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society
Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“We’ve made tremendous progress in the way we diagnose and treat cancer across the
country. But to leverage this progress, Rhode Island legislators must take advantage
of the opportunities to pass evidence-based laws and policies that are proven to
save lives and money,” said Susan Roberts, director of government relations for ACS
CAN in Rhode Island. “In Rhode Island alone in 2016, 6,190 people will be diagnosed
with cancer and 2,090 will die from it. We can’t wait to take action when the stakes
are that high. This report outlines ways lawmakers can make a difference by
emphasizing cancer prevention, curbing tobacco use and prioritizing quality of life
for patients and their families.”

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in 10 specific areas of public policy that can
help fight cancer, including smoke-free laws, tobacco tax levels, funding for
tobacco prevention and cessation programs and cessation coverage under Medicaid,
funding for cancer screening programs and restricting indoor tanning devices for
minors. The report also looks at whether or not a state has said yes to federal
funds available to increase access to care through its Medicaid program, has passed
policies proven to increase patient quality of life, offers a well-balanced approach
to pain medications and, for the first time, examines where states land when it
comes to passing and implementing legislation to help ensure patients’ oral
chemotherapy drugs are covered by insurance the same as intravenous chemotherapy.

Additionally, the report offers a blueprint for states to effectively implement
provisions of the health care law in a way that benefits cancer patients and their
families, and discusses the negative financial impact if Rhode Island fails to take
action on cancer-fighting policy. Additionally, How Do You Measure Up? highlights
other policies proven to prevent diseases like cancer including recommended
requirements for physical education and physical activity in schools. Passing and
implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in
Rhode Island, but also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some
cases would even generate additional, much-needed revenue.

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 Rhode Island Measures Up:

Cigarette Tax Rates
Green

Smoke-free Laws
Green

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding Red

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services Yellow

Indoor Tanning Device Use Restrictions Red

Increased Access to Medicaid Green

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding Red

Access to Palliative Care
Green

Pain Policy
Green

Oral Chemotherapy Parity Green

“As advocates, we’ve worked hard to educate Rhode Islanders about ways to prevent
and treat cancer, but our voice is not enough if state and local policymakers don’t
take action to fund and implement state policies and programs that are proven to
save lives,” said Johnson.

Nationally, the report finds that only four states meet six out of the 10 benchmarks
measured. Maine and Massachusetts are the only two states to meet seven out of the
10 benchmarks. Oral chemotherapy fairness legislation is the most met benchmark with
42 states and the District of Columbia considered “doing well.”

To view the complete report and details on Rhode Island’s grades, visit
www.acscan.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.