HCN News & Notes

Massachusetts Leads Nation in Cancer-fighting Public Policies

BOSTON — Once again this year, Massachusetts is leading the nation 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,” Massachusetts measured up to policy recommendations in six of the eight evaluated issue areas. 

“This year alone in Massachusetts, over 40,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer,” said Marc Hymovitz, director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “We owe it to them — and to everyone at risk of developing this disease — to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward to improve cancer-prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families, and increase access to critical health coverage.”

“How Do You Measure Up?” rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, and uses a color-coded system to classify 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.

Massachusetts was rated green in increased access to care through Medicaid, access to palliative care, cigarette tax rates, smoke-free laws, tobacco-cessation coverage under Medicaid, and restricting indoor tanning devices for people under 18. It was rated yellow in balanced pain-control policies and red in funding for tobacco-prevention and cessation programs. Massachusetts was joined by only Maine and California in meeting six of the eight benchmarks.

“By passing laws that prevent cancer and help patients get the care they need, our lawmakers can save lives and money in Massachusetts,” Hymovitz said. “We stand ready to work with our leaders to build a healthier and brighter future for Bay Staters and eliminate death and suffering from cancer.”