I was very surprised, and deeply honored to receive the 2012 Arizona Lawmaker of the Year award from the Cancer Action Network. I am in tears, attempting an acceptance speech, standing on the dais with two of the bravest women I know. Bobbi Thayer was the catalyst for the successful legislation Rep. Matt Heinz and I passed last year to provide uninsured low income women treatment for breast and cervical cancer. Laura was one of the first women to qualify for treatment under the new law. These ladies are Cancer Fighters, an inspiration to all, and advocates for cancer victims everywhere. In honor of them, and in honor of my beloved brother Mike, I stand with them in their fight against cancer.
2012 Arizona Legislative Session Report
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network saw great success in Arizona’s 2012 legislative session. ACS CAN members can take pride in passing the top three goals on our legislative agenda, including an enhanced treatment component to the state’s breast and cervical cancer treatment program that could help more than 1,000 vulnerable women in Arizona receive treatment through Medicaid.
What was offered as bi-partisan legislation, sponsored by state Representatives Kate Brophy McGee and Matt Heinz and known as HB2472, was ultimately passed as part of the state budget that was signed by Governor Brewer last week. The budget allocates $2 million for the treatment of uninsured women who have incomes of less than 250% of the Federal Poverty Level and are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. Currently, only women who are screened through the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program are eligible for Medicaid treatment following a cancer diagnosis. This new policy strongly supported by ACS CAN and its advocate partners will allow any qualifying woman regardless of the location of her diagnosis to receive treatment through Medicaid. The effective date of the policy change is expected to be Aug. 2, 2012.
Additionally, state legislators appropriated $1.3 million for breast and cervical cancer screening to fund the Well Woman HealthCheck Program. At a time when budget tightening is continuing, we pushed to maintain level funding for this important program.
Finally, a strong stand against an emerging tobacco issue has begun with the passage of Representative Kimberly Yee’s HB2034, which prohibits the use or possession of hookah by people under the age of 18.
ACS CAN advocates also put a stop to an initiative effort that would have put 70% of Arizona’s tobacco tax and our hard-won smoke free law in jeopardy with perpetual six-year “re-votes” of these issues. More than 1,000 calls were made to key legislators by ACS CAN members and volunteers over a ten day period, convincing lawmakers that this truly is a bad idea.
Thanks to you, ACS CAN made a positive impact on the 2012 legislative session in Arizona!