Another Successful Virtual ACS CAN Day at the Capitol
The Iowa Cancer Consortium is a non-partisan, non-political organization and does not use state funds to engage in lobbying. Views presented by Consortium members do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of the Iowa Cancer Consortium, its board of directors, staff or membership.
By Bridget Toomey, MS, CPC, CPPM
ACS CAN Volunteer
Assistant Director of Clinical Operations, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Iowa Health Care
We are in our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers have become quite the virtual lobby day experts! On February 11th, 32 advocates, including many Iowa Cancer Consortium members, participated in their second Iowa virtual Day at the Capitol event. The virtual event proved successful again with 14 legislator meetings coming from both the Senate and the House. This year, ACS CAN’s priorities included level funding requests for the Care for Yourself program and tobacco cessation and prevention. ACS CAN’s new “ask” on the table this year was to support the Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety Act, HF 2412.
Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety Act
ACS CAN’s ask: Support that passing of HF 2412
Due to the geographic history of Iowa, Iowans are at greater risk for radon exposure and radon-caused lung cancer. This year alone, an estimated 400 Iowans will die from radon-caused lung cancer. Many people are familiar with testing and mitigating radon in their own homes, but most are not aware that there is currently no requirement for Iowa schools to test and mitigate.
The Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety Act is named after retired Iowa teacher and radon safety advocate, Gail Orcutt. Gail died from her radon-induced lung cancer in 2020 and this bill has been named in her honor and memory of the hard work and advocacy she did to bring the issue of radon in schools to light. The ACS CAN team was honored to have William Orcutt, Gail’s husband, on the legislative calls to speak on his wife’s namesake bill.
- HF 2412 requires all public-school districts to test for radon, and if necessary, mitigate any risks
- Initial testing would be completed by 2027 with follow up testing at least once every 5 years after
- Radon test costs vary by size of district. Between $1,900 and $2,900 for training plus the cost of test kits
- Average cost of mitigation is $3,300 per building
As of the date of this writing, the Gail Orcutt School Radon Safety Bill was removed from the House Debate Calendar. ACS CAN asks that you to contact your legislators to ask them to put HF 2412 back on the House Debate Calendar before the second funnel deadline of March 18, 2022.
Care for Yourself
ACS CAN’s ask: Support $274,000 for the Care for Yourself program in FY2023 Budget
The Care for Yourself program is part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program that helps reduce risks from breast cancer and cervical cancer.
The Care for Yourself program offers free or low-cost cancer screenings to eligible individuals. Iowa Department of Public Health program staff schedule appointments for the following services: clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, and pap tests.
- 7,750 Iowa women were served by Care for Yourself from 2014-2019
- 7,672 Iowa women received breast cancer screenings and diagnostic services
- Because of the Care for Yourself program, 137 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 138 women detected breast cancer
Tobacco Prevention & Cessation
ACS CAN’s ask: Support $4.02 million for tobacco prevention and cessation in FY2023 Budget
The Iowa Legislature created the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control within the Iowa Department of Public Health with programs to prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help those already addicted to tobacco quit. Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention (ISTEP) has grown to have 2,200+ registered members in local chapters statewide. ISTEP is the only tobacco prevention organization with a youth-led structure, that is changing the tobacco world in Iowa.
The Quitline provides free one-on-one phone counseling and information, local cessation program referrals, and can provide starter packs of quit smoking medications like nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges. For more information about Quitline Iowa, visit Quitline Iowa or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- 7% of high school students smoke cigarettes
- 1% of high school students use e-cigarettes
- 4% of Iowa adults smoke cigarettes
- 8% of cancer deaths in Iowa are attributed to smoking
- $1.28 billion annual health care costs directly caused by smoking
- $364.5 million Medicaid costs caused by smoking
While many advocates wished this year’s Day at the Capitol would have been in person, the virtual format proved once again to open new opportunities for advocates to work with each other and talk to representatives from different areas of the state. ACS CAN also saw new volunteer faces come for the ease of the virtual format. Social media again played an important role this year with advocates using the hashtag #IACancerActionDay across all social media platforms. Knowing that our efforts are making a difference in the lives of Iowans, whether we are on the Capitol steps or joining in from our computers at home, inspires us to keep up the hard work and take on any new challenges that come our way!
 Citation: CDC National Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program- Iowa Summary 202
 Tobacco Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco Iowa 2020