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Health & Medicine

NY State Has Room for Improvement in Preventing, Treating Cancer


  New York State scored five out of a possible ten in getting behind suggested policies and aggressively passing laws to reduce cancer deaths and suffering.  The Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality was released yesterday from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.  Government Relations Director Julie Hart says while the State scores high to deter kids and adults from smoking… there’s still room for improvement.

“Where we fall a little bit short is our Medicaid program.  Medicaid recipients have higher rates of smoking, so those are the ones who need access to medication.  Coverage varies by plan, but for a Medicaid recipient, they may actually need more than one smoking mediation at a time.  So we think they should cover all seven approved FDA medications.”

Hart adds that Medicaid recipients and low income populations with a poor mental health status are 30 percent more likely to smoke.  New York ranked as falling short when it comes to young people using indoor tanning beds.  Hart says the Cancer Society wants lawmakers to raise the minimum age from under 17 to 18.

“We still have kids that are using indoor tanning booths.  A young person’s skin is still developing and it makes them more susceptible to the harmful effects of U-V rays.  So we really want all kids to stay out of tanning booths.”

HoHow New York State Measures Up:
     (Green=Reached Benchmark; Yellow=Some Progress; Red=Falling Short)

  • Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                      Green
  • Smoke-free Laws                                                                          Green
  • Increased Access to Medicaid                                                       Green
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding    Green
  • Oral Chemotherapy Parity                                                            Green
  • Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services                     Yellow
  • Pain Policy                                                                                    Yellow
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding                  Red
  • Indoor Tanning Device Use Restrictions                                       Red
  • Access to Palliative Care                                                              Red


Another area in which the study showed New York needed improvement was supportive care.  Hart explains it’s not just focusing on Cancer treatment but, also quality of life care that’s needed for each individual.

“That may not just be the doctor.  You’re bringing in nurses; you’re bringing in counselors; you’re bringing in social workers.  They can help people not only with the physical problems of cancer, but their symptoms, their emotional needs.”  

She adds by focusing on this aspect of supportive care, patients ultimately have better outcomes.  The State scored high on early detection for Breast and Cervical Cancer and for increased access to Medicaid.