Budget's Done. What's Next for New York?

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Focus on Health Insurance Exchange, Indoor Tanning, Tobacco

Albany, NY (April 6, 2011) – Now that the 2011-2012 New York State budget is history, you may be wondering, what’s next in the fight against cancer? 

The remainder of the legislative session will focus on policy-related, non-budgetary issues.  For the American Cancer Society (ACS), that means advocating for implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New York, a law to ban indoor tanning for minors, and other proposals designed to reduce the burden of cancer.

“Our legislative agenda supports a range of measures that, if enacted, will make a real difference in the fight against cancer,” said Russell Sciandra, New York State Director of Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “Working with legislators to enact laws that prevent or detect cancer early is one of the most effective ways we can have an impact on cancer rates.”

Health Insurance Exchange
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently hit a milestone, the one-year anniversary of its enactment.  As it is implemented, ACS will continue to ensure that the law serves cancer patients and supports cancer prevention. 

The ACA requires states to pass legislation establishing a health insurance exchange by the end of June 2011.  The exchange is a marketplace where individuals and small groups can purchase insurance that includes essential health care benefits.  Starting in 2014, the exchange will provide access to quality health insurance coverage at reasonable prices. Establishment of a consumer-oriented exchange is the highest legislative priority for ACS in New York.

To date, 35 states have introduced legislation to establish or study a state exchange, but New York is not among them.  ACS is working to encourage state lawmakers to expedite this process and to ensure that the New York exchange meets the needs of cancer patients. 

Ban on Indoor Tanning for Minors
Indoor tanning is a significant cause of skin cancer, especially among those who tan as teenagers.  According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma 75 percent.  While UV radiation has long been associated with increased risk for skin cancer and melanoma, in July 2009 the IARC elevated tanning beds to the highest cancer risk category - group 1 - 'carcinogenic to humans.’ ACS supports legislation to ban minors from utilizing indoor tanning facilities.  New York would be the first state to enact such a law.

Protect New Yorkers from Secondhand Smoke
A growing body of evidence shows that even low-level exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful.  There is broad public support for further restricting where smoking can occur.  ACS supports legislation banning smoking in cars occupied by children, will promote restrictions on smoking around building entrances and in outdoor areas such as parks and playgrounds, and will encourage smoke free policies in multiple unit housing. 

Tobacco Tax Evasion
ACS supports state efforts to collect excise taxes on cigarettes sold or smuggled off Indian reservations.  As many as one-third of all packs sold in New York are untaxed, counter-acting the positive public health effect of the state’s highest-in-the-nation excise tax.  More than 100,000 New Yorkers would quit smoking if taxes on cigarettes sold on reservations were collected.

For more information about any of the issues above or to learn how you can get involved with ACS advocacy efforts, please call 1-800-227-2345 or log onto acscan.org/ny

Additional Resources:
The Affordable Care Act - One Year Later
Support Tanning Reforms
Protect New Yorkers from Secondhand Smoke

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.