American Cancer Society Action Network: Wisconsin Legislature Prioritizes Cancer Prevention and Early Detection, But Misses Opportunity to Increase Access to Care

Madison, Wis. – March 9, 2022 – Wisconsin’s 2021-22 legislative session ended this week. This session was marked by important victories for cancer prevention and early detection, as well as battles against unwarranted efforts to create barriers to access to care.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) commends the Legislative Assembly for continuing funding for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program and the Well Woman Program. However, ACS CAN regrets lawmakers’ support for legislation that will unnecessarily impede access to health care coverage for low-income Wisconsinites.

The following is a statement from ACS CAN Wisconsin Director of Government Relations, Sara Sahli:

Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is essential to prevent young people from becoming addicted to dangerous tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and to help adults quit smoking. It is also essential to reduce the health burden and disparities that result from tobacco use. While smoking rates have declined in Wisconsin over the past decade, we see progress stalling and more children becoming addicted to tobacco due to the e-cigarette epidemic. Tobacco industry marketing strategies have led to an increase in the use of tobacco products among people with limited incomes, blacks, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and residents of rural areas, among others. .

The Well Woman Program provides a vital safety net to thousands of limited-income, uninsured, and underinsured women in our state who otherwise could not access cancer screening and treatment. Preserving funding for this state program is truly a matter of life and death for the more than 5,580 mothers, daughters and wives in our communities who will be diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer this year.

“While we thank lawmakers for continued funding for these programs that are essential to reducing cancer suffering and mortality, we are deeply disappointed that SB 905/AB 934 and SB 912/AB 936 pass. Both of these bills impose harmful and unnecessary barriers to access BadgerCare, our national Medicaid program. We call on Governor Evers to veto these bills. Without these veto rights, cancer patients and survivors – as well as those with other complex chronic conditions – can be severely disadvantaged and left without health care coverage because they are physically unable to comply with work requirements or paperwork to maintain coverage.

“If our lawmakers are serious about protecting our health and lives, we urge them to return millions of dollars from our federal taxpayers to Wisconsin and help the 91,000 hard-working and low-income Wisconsinites in our communities to access affordable, quality health care by fully developing BadgerCare.

“Ending cancer as we know it requires bold new public policies that promote cancer prevention and early detection, and expand access to affordable, quality health care. We look forward to working with our elected leaders to create a healthier Wisconsin for our family friends and neighbors.