TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sunshine State is far behind the rest of the country in caring for cancer patients and preventing cancer from occurring, according to a recently-released annual reportfrom the Cancer Action Network.
The group found that Florida was not proficient in the eight benchmarks, including legislation related to preventing cancer, pain management for patients and palliative care.
Florida’s limited access to Medicaid was a cause for concern in the study.
“An estimated 2.3 million individuals (children and adults under age 65) with a history of cancer rely on the health care coverage provided by their state Medicaid program,” the report says. “Nearly one-third of all children diagnosed with cancer are enrolled in Medicaid at the point of diagnosis.”
Under the leadership of former Gov. Rick Scott, Florida representatives did not expand Medicaid, leaving the state with a significant number of uninsured Floridians.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Florida has the third-highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country at 20.1 percent. That number was up from 19.8 percent in 2016.
According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, which calculates annual contributions of each county to the overall cost-shared by the federal government, Florida counties will contribute $302 million to the $29 billion healthcare program over the next fiscal year.
The Florida Decides Healthcare political committee has proposed an amendment to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who earn 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The group needs more than 766,000 signatures from registered voters to get the proposal on next year’s ballot. So far, the committee has nearly 80,000 signatures to support the amendment.
Another problem for Florida: The Sunshine State is the third most populous state in the country but is not in the top 10 states with the most research funding and clinical trials.
“Total funding for Florida’s biomedical research programs is currently at $23 million, with $3 million carved out specifically for pediatric cancer research.”
A study by the American Cancer Society found that at least 42 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. are potentially avoidable – including 19 percent caused by smoking and 18 percent caused by a combination of excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and poor nutrition.
The one bright spot of the Cancer Action Network report is that Florida made strides during the last legislative session on prevention of tobacco use.
Under FICCA, or the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act – originally passed in 1985, a new voter-approved law took effect July 1 of this year to include vaping bans vaping and use of e-cigarettes in workplaces.