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Power. Progress. Prevention. February 28, 2020

February 28, 2020

Power. Progress. Prevention. -- An Advocacy Newsletter | Prevent Cancer Foundation

February 28, 2020

House passes historic tobacco bill

In a huge victory for prevention efforts, the House passed H.R. 2339—the Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. This marks the first time a Chamber of Congress has voted to prohibit all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

In addition to the flavor ban, the bill includes several provisions:

  • Prohibits online sales of most tobacco products.
  • Extends advertising restrictions that currently apply to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
  • Requires the FDA to implement graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.
  • Imposes a federal tax on nicotine used in e-cigarettes.
  • Funds critical prevention and cessation initiatives. The bill funds a national campaign to educate young people, parents and health care providers about the health risks of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. To help more tobacco users quit, it funds comprehensive tobacco cessation treatment in community health centers, outreach to medically underserved communities, and research to develop and improve cessation treatments.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® applauds the House for passing this critical legislation to stop the tobacco epidemic among kids and teens. The bill will now move to the Senate. We’ll continue the fight there to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®

Court strikes down Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

An appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to strike down work requirements for Arkansas’ Medicaid program. The Trump administration has consistently pushed for states to require beneficiaries to work, volunteer or participate in a job training program to remain eligible for health benefits.  

One of the judges from the three-person panel, Judge David Sentelle, criticized the requirements in his ruling, calling them “arbitrary and capricious.” He added, “The means that Congress selected to achieve the objectives of Medicaid was to provide health care coverage to populations that otherwise could not afford it. Importantly, the Secretary disregarded this statutory purpose in his analysis.”

As part of the work requirements, anyone receiving benefits had to report their efforts monthly to the state. Many were unaware of the requirement and were removed from Medicaid as a result. Before the rule was defeated in the lower court by Judge James Boasberg, more than 18,000 beneficiaries were dropped from the program.

The appeals court decision will likely impact programs in several other states. Seven states—Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin—have put their work requirements on hold as the lawsuit plays out in the courts. While the decision against work requirements has been upheld for now, another appeal could be on the horizon.  

This is a developing story. We will provide updates as they occur.

Bills seek to extend coverage for breast cancer screenings in young women

As part of spending package last December, Congress placed a moratorium on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF’s) recommendation giving annual mammograms for women ages 40-49. While we applaud Congress for supporting the measure, there are two bills seeking to go even further.

The Protecting Access to Life-saving Screenings (PALS) Act (H.R. 2777), sponsored by Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and Susan Brooks (R-IN), would extend the moratorium to 2025. A companion bill in the Senate (S. 1936), sponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would do the same.

The bills would increase screening access to 22 million women between the ages of 40 and 49 by ensuring coverage for mammograms with no co-pay. Though breast cancer is more common later in life, many women are diagnosed at an earlier age—and these women are often diagnosed with more aggressive forms of cancer. With annual mammograms, doctors can screen for these aggressive cases and detect them at an earlier stage, when successful treatment is more likely.

We know that breast screening saves lives and the PALS Act has made a difference. A study last year by researchers from the University of Colorado, Duke University and the University of Michigan reported that mammograms have helped save up to 600,000 lives since 1989. In 2018 alone, the study reported that up to 46,000 lives were saved. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 10% of new cases of breast cancer this year will be in women under the age of 45.

Please reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to protect vital breast cancer screenings by supporting H.R. 2777 and S. 1936!

Register for the Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop

*New speakers announced!*

The annual Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 25 at the FHI 360 Conference Center in Washington, DC. The day will be filled with engaging conversations and exciting networking opportunities with other policy and advocacy professionals.  We hope you can join!

The workshop is a FREE event and will serve as a forum for patients, providers, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders to engage in a dialogue around issues regarding hereditary cancers, somatic mutations and biomarkers. It will be accessible to individuals with a broad range of experience, including a 101 session to help attendees understand the basics. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the role these factors play in prevention and early detection and solutions to improve patient awareness and engagement. 

Register now!

 

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February 28, 2020

Trump proposed budget raises concerns over health care  

President Trump released his proposed $4.5 trillion budget this week, which includes significant cuts to several health programs. In the proposal, defense spending would see an increase of 0.3% ($750 billion), while non-defense spending would see a decrease of 5% ($590 billion) for fiscal year 2021 – which starts on October 1. The cuts are below the level Congress and the president agreed to in a deal last summer. However, any major decisions will likely not be made until after the election in November.

Of that $590 billion in cuts, the biggest reductions are in health and safety-net programs, including $130 billion in Medicare prescription drug programs, $292 billion from Medicaid work requirements and food stamps, and $70 billion through restrictions on access to disability benefits. Several agencies are slated for cuts, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). 

Given Democrats control the House, it is unlikely the president’s budget will have the momentum to pass through the chamber, especially with the cuts proposed on health care spending. Hearings and mark-ups are slated to begin over the next few weeks in the House; the Senate has not yet indicated it will hold hearings.

Despite the fact it will likely not pass, the president’s budget does provide some insight into his policy priorities should he be reelected. This is a developing story, and we will provide updates as they occur.

Register for the Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop

*New speakers announced!*

The annual Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 25 at the FHI 360 Conference Center in Washington, DC. The day will be filled with engaging conversations and exciting networking opportunities with other policy and advocacy professionals.  We hope you can join!

The workshop is a FREE event and will serve as a forum for patients, providers, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders to engage in a dialogue around issues regarding hereditary cancers, somatic mutations and biomarkers. It will be accessible to individuals with a broad range of experience, including a 101 session to help attendees understand the basics. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the role these factors play in prevention and early detection and solutions to improve patient awareness and engagement. 

Register now!

Budget signals potential shift in tobacco oversight

Another component of the president’s proposal would impact tobacco regulation. Under the budget, he suggests removing the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) from the FDA to create a new independent agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The FDA was given the authority to regulate tobacco products (including vaping) in 2009 after the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The CTP currently exists as the arm of the FDA that manages its tobacco control initiatives; however, should the budget pass, it would formally establish it as an independent entity and remove FDA oversight.

The accompanying justification released with the budget read, “A new agency with the singular mission on tobacco and its impact on public health would have greater capacity to respond strategically to the growing complexity of new tobacco products.”

The administration has had a complicated relationship with tobacco and vaping products over the past several months. At one point, the president called for the ban of all flavored tobacco products, before walking that back and allowing several products to remain on the market.

Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, voiced his opposition to FDA oversight late last year, referring to it as a “huge distraction.” He also said, “Tobacco has no redeeming qualities and it should not be regulated by a health agency like this.”
 
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb even expressed his opposition at the time, saying, “The regulation of tobacco products was one of the most productive uses of my time as FDA Commissioner.”

Anti-smoking advocates have expressed criticism of the budget request. The president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Matthew Myers, said, “This proposal is yet another giveaway to the tobacco and e-cigarette industry from an Administration that recently sided with the industry over kids by leaving thousands of flavored e-cigarettes on the market.”

The president’s budget is far from passing in its current iteration, and we will provide updates as the story develops.  

 

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