Connecticut is getting mixed reviews in its fight against cancer, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society Action Network.
Connecticut scored well in six of the 10 public policy areas that can help fight cancer, including tobacco cessation services, tobacco tax levels, pallative care, increased access to health coverage through Medicaid, oral chemotherapy fairness, and funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Nationally, the report found that only four states met 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.”
In Connecticut, the report highlights its failing to adequately fund state tobacco control and prevention program funding, leaving many of those who want to quit smoking without a tool to help them kick the deadly addiction, and opening the door for youth to pick up a cigarette for the first time.
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 Connecticut Measures Up: Cigarette Tax Rates: Green; Smoke-Free Laws; Yellow; Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding: Red; Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services: Green; Indoor Tanning Device Use Restrictions: Red; Increased Access to Medicaid, Green; Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding, Green; Access to Palliative Care, Green, Pain Policy, Yellow, Oral Chemotherapy Parity, Green.
To view the complete report and details on Connecticut’s grades, visit www.acscan.org.
“We’ve made tremendous progress in the way we diagnose and treat cancer across the country. But to leverage this progress, Connecticut legislators must take advantage of the opportunities to pass evidence-based laws and policies that are proven to save lives and money,” Bryte Johnson, director of government relations for the organization, said. “In Connecticut alone in 2016, 21,700 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 6,780 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.”
Connecticut has an opportunity to improve its benchmark rating in the next legislative session by increasing tobacco control funding, Johnson said.
“Although the state has made progress reducing its tobacco burden, however, the state’s tobacco control program remains woefully underfunded. There are more than 461,600 adult and youth tobacco users in Connecticut and tobacco use remain the largest preventable cause of disease and death,” Johnson said. “As advocates, we’ve worked hard to educate Connecticut residents 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.”