The Affordable Care Act upheld today by the US Supreme Court is far-reaching and complex — so complex that, according to many polls, most Americans still don’t truly understand exactly how it will affect their lives.
The politics behind the legislation remains controversial. Today, however, as a cancer research and education organization dedicated to prevention, we’d like to address one specific aspect of the law that has nothing to do with political party, namely: How it sets out to broaden our national approach to diseases like cancer by placing an unprecedented amount of focus on prevention.
This helpful page on www.healthcare.gov lists the many preventive care services covered in the Affordable Care Act. Many of these relate directly to cancer prevention, including: colorectal cancer screenings and mammography.
But there’s much more to cancer prevention than screening tests. This is why AICR applauds the inclusion of more pervasive, lifestyle-based services, including those that have been shown to directly affect cancer risk:
- Obesity counseling
- Smoking cessation counseling
- Dietary counseling (for those at high risk)
- Alcohol abuse counseling
We are heartened to see a governmental approach tackling the underlying roots of cancer risk, not simply treating the disease. We hope today’s decision ushers in a more comprehensive approach to cancer prevention – because AICR has shown that getting the public to move more, weigh less and eat smart could prevent hundreds of thousands of US cancers ever year, and save millions of lives.
Understand: This is only the beginning. More and better prevention efforts are sorely needed and long overdue. But if there’s one thing our policy report makes clear, it’s that government can’t do it alone. All levels of society – industry, schools, health professionals, the media, individuals – helped get us to where we are now, and must play a role in the kind of sweeping societal changes needed to make it easier for everyone to make healthy, cancer protective choices.