In the last two decades, we have seen a 25 percent drop in the cancer death rate. But our work is not complete. Research suggests that roughly half of all cancer deaths can be prevented if we avoid tobacco, get physical activity, eat a healthy diet and get regular, recommended cancer screenings.
In order to do this, people need access to services that help them quit tobacco, get exercise and access the care they need. That’s where lawmakers come in.
Our local and state policymakers play a crucial role in the fight against cancer by passing laws that help reduce the toll of the disease – which will claim nearly 60,000 lives in California this year alone.
California is making great progress on legislative efforts to combat cancer, according to American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s 15th annual report, “How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.”
“How Do You Measure Up?” rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer. The report evaluates each state’s legislative activity on issues such as access to care, cancer prevention and tobacco control.
California measured up in seven of nine critical benchmarks measured in the report.
The only ranking in which California is “in the red” is access to palliative care. California lawmakers have a chance to improve access to palliative care by passing Senate Bill (SB) 294 this legislative session.
Senator Ed Hernandez’s SB 294 updates the hospice agency licensing statute to allow hospice agencies to provide palliative care services to patients who are not in hospice and not facing a terminal illness.
State policymakers must act now. We cannot miss opportunities to enact policies that could save money and, most importantly, save lives.