Legislative Update Week 2
2013 Legislative Session Week 2 Update Friday, March 15, 2013 The 2013 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature has completed its second week, with seven more yet to go. The Capitol was abuzz with news surrounding the resignation of Florida’s Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer Carroll, but that certainly did not distract our team from working towards our goal of saving more lives.
Another hot topic of conversation was the issue of Medicaid Expansion, which on Monday saw the Senate Select Committee on PPACA vote 7-4 against moving forward with full expansion...a position taken by the House last week. Of note in the hearing, however, was the emergence of alternative proposals to increase access to quality health care for those currently without it. ACS CAN will continue to work with key decision makers on this issue to ensure the voice of the cancer patient is duly represented in the important dialogue to follow.
Signs of movement on a state budget for fiscal year 2013-14 should start taking shape as the revenue estimators meet today to finalize their estimates. The Senate is expecting to announce allocations for the various appropriations committees next week, which means those panels can begin crafting their spending plans for the upcoming year. The House will build its own proposals, with a conference committee process ultimately reconciling the differences prior to an appropriations package going to the Governor’s desk. ACS CAN has three major budget issues this session:
BREAST CANCER SCREENING - ACTIVELY SUPPORT state funding for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program for medically underserved women, at a level equal to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s program investment in Florida. Our request for the 2013 session is $2.4 million in state funding - building upon the first ever state appropriation for screening within that program last session. BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH - ACTIVELY SUPPORT measures that will increase Florida’s capacity for research and treatment, including clinical trials, especially measures that generate a substantial state investment in Florida’s research infrastructure. ACTIVELY SUPPORT Fiscal Year 2013-14 funding of the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program ($7.2 million) and the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program ($5 million) as prescribed in law, with a peer-reviewed and competitive grant process being the basis for program funding allocations.
TOBACCO PREVENTION AND EDUCATION - ACTIVELY SUPPORT the continued, full implementation of Article X, Section 27 of the Florida Constitution, as intended by the voters, funding the program at $65.6 million for FY 2013-14.
The week also proved fruitful for progress on an important issue we have been supporting with various other stakeholders. The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act, SB 422 by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R - Ft. Myers) and HB 301 by Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R - Vero Beach), would require health insurance policies that provide cancer treatment medication coverage to also provide coverage for oral cancer treatment medications. Out-of-pocket costs to the insured are often higher for oral cancer treatment medications than for other forms of treatment - including intravenous and injectable meds. If successful, these “oral chemo parity” bills would help to level those costs and enhance quality of life for those seeking the treatment option that best fits their needs. Both bills cleared key committee stops this week. We will continue working with the bill sponsors and partners as they move through the process.
As always, updated information on ACS CAN’s legislative priorities can be found at www.acscan.org/florida and you can get real-time updates on Twitter.
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Yours in the Fight, Heather
Heather Wildermuth Director of Government Relations ACS CAN, Florida Division