Cancer Policy News from the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative | March 2021
New Policy Agenda helps you address pressing cancer issues 
We are excited to share the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative’s Policy Agenda 2021-2022
The Policy Agenda helps our members understand the connections between cancer prevention and control efforts and legislation, ordinances, and policies on the federal, state, and local levels of government. 
The Policy Agenda 2021-2022 identifies six goals that help to advance the Wisconsin Cancer Plan 2020-2030, as well as corresponding action steps for members to achieve those goals. 
2021-2022 Policy Goals
  1. Increase availability of and access to comprehensive health insurance coverage.  
  2. Decrease tobacco use and exposure to tobacco.  
  3. Increase access to cancer prevention vaccination services.  
  4. Reduce barriers to cancer screening and increase insurance coverage for diagnostic testing.  
  5. Reduce cancer costs incurred by patients and families.  
  6. Ensure access to quality palliative care.  
Learn more
The Policy Agenda will be featured in our April webinar, Cancer Policy Review and Outlook for 2021. Join us! Register here >>
Governor’s budget: Cancer-related highlights 
In mid-February, Gov. Tony Evers unveiled his state budget proposal for fiscal years 2021-2023. The $91 billion blueprint outlines the Governor’s priorities for Wisconsin for the next two years.

These priorities include several items related to cancer control and prevention, such as:

  • An expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to cover childless adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The Governor estimates that the expansion would provide coverage to 90,000 people, half of whom would be newly eligible to Medicaid, and would generate $634 million in savings. The proposal also calls for an elimination of the BadgerCare prescription drug co-pay. Medicaid expansion has been linked to decreased mortality for patients with breast, colorectal, and lung cancers.

  • A phase-out of the federal health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, and the establishment of a state marketplace. The Governor also proposes funding for the state’s health insurance navigator program. 

  • The creation of a public-option health insurance plan by 2025, or by 2022 if the Affordable Care Act is no longer enforceable. The Governor’s budget also would offer premium assistance for Wisconsinites living between 138% and 250% of the federal poverty level who are also enrolled in a Silver plan through the ACA marketplace. 

  • The prohibition of some health insurers operating in Wisconsin from establishing annual or lifetime limits on health insurance plans. The budget proposal also would require some plans to cover essential health benefits included in the ACA such as preventive services at no cost to the patient. 

  • Funding for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, which provides preventive health screening services to women with little or no health insurance coverage. 

  • Recommendations from the Taskforce on Caregiving, which include a tax credit for caregivers of up to $500, a tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral program to support family caregivers, and the expansion of the state’s Family Medical Leave Act program to include care for grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
Governor’s budget: Tobacco provisions 
The Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative’s new Policy Agenda highlights the need for decreasing tobacco use and exposure to tobacco products by increasing taxes on tobacco products and e-cigarettes, strengthening policies to restrict youth access, and expanding clean air laws to include e-cigarettes. 
Gov. Evers’ proposed budget includes several steps toward achieving these objectives in his 2021-2023 state budget proposal. 
Tobacco-related initiatives include:
  • Funding the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at its current level ($5.3 million annually)
  • Funding a one-time $2 million for a tobacco and e-cigarette education campaign
  • Adding e-cigarettes to the smoke-free workplaces law
  • Updating tobacco-free school policies to include e-cigarettes and vaping
  • Requiring retailers to stock all tobacco products behind the counter or in a locked case
  • Raising the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 in accordance with federal law
  • Licensing vape shops (with a $102,400 line item to enforce new licensing requirements)
  • Increasing e-cigarette taxes to 71% manufacture’s price
  • Increasing brown cigarette taxes to $2.52 cents per pack, in parity with traditional white cigarettes
American Rescue Plan increases access to health insurance coverage
On Friday, March 12, President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. The new law makes significant changes to health insurance subsidies and would increase the federal funding to the Wisconsin Medicaid Program.

Prior to the American Rescue Plan Act's passage, people who had health insurance through an ACA marketplace and who earned more than 400% of the federal poverty level did not qualify for subsidies to offset the cost of coverage. Under the new law, people with an income of more than 400% of the federal poverty level will have their premium costs capped at 8.5% of their income. People with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level will be able to enroll in a Silver plan with a $0 premium. 

Once the new law takes effect, individuals and families will be able to update their account on to receive the new tax credits going forward. The changes to the premiums are set to last two years.

The new law also provides significant assistance to those who have been laid off from their jobs or had their work hours reduced. Prior to the new law, former employees were able to seek health insurance coverage through their former employer under COBRA, but were required to pay for the entire cost of their premiums. Under the new law, the federal government will cover the entire cost of premiums allowing former employees to maintain health insurance previously provided by their employers. The COBRA relief will run for six months.

Finally, the new law provides a financial incentive to states such as Wisconsin that have not expanded their Medicaid programs to cover individuals with incomes between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level. According to a new report by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin would receive more than $1 billion over two years. Overall, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the state would save more than $1.6 billion in the Medicaid program over two years, if Medicaid expansion was adopted.
Our Legislative Drop is going virtual!
Every two years, members and staff from the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative visit the state Capitol for our biennial Legislative Drop, where we share educational resources with the Governor and the entire Wisconsin State Legislature. 

This year the legislative drop is going virtual. Beginning later this month, we will be emailing all state legislators and Gov. Evers with relevant resources and helpful data about cancer control and prevention. The materials, which will be mailed in hard copy as well, include an introductory letter, county cancer profiles specific to each legislative district, a copy of the Wisconsin Cancer Plan 2020-2030, and our soon-to-be-released issue brief, The Financial Toxicity of Cancer.
Get involved! If you would like to help by emailing these materials to your elected officials, please contact Policy Coordinator Amy Johnson at [email protected]
Formerly known as the Wisconsin Cancer Council. Here’s why we changed our name.