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PNS Daily Newscast - October 19, 2017 


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ID Has Work to Do to Fight Cancer, Report Finds

Idaho's working poor often don't have access to early cancer screenings, leading to higher rates of cancer diagnoses.  (skeeze/Pixabay)
Idaho's working poor often don't have access to early cancer screenings, leading to higher rates of cancer diagnoses. (skeeze/Pixabay)
August 4, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho has a lot of room to prevent and reduce cancer, especially for the state's working poor.

A new report from American Cancer Society's "Cancer Action Society" gives Idaho a failing grade in six of its nine categories. The categories include tobacco prevention funding, breast and cervical cancer screening, and access to Medicaid.

Luke Cavener, state director of government relations for the action society, says the most troubling sign is the 78,000 Idahoans who fall into the health coverage gap. Without insurance, they face a greater risk of cancer.

"Oftentimes early treatment, early diagnosis, is the most critical component in prevention and survivorship," he says. "And because people prolong that - for a wide variety of reasons, but specifically, related to that financial burden - we continue to see high rates of cancer diagnosis among the working poor in Idaho."

Idaho is one of 19 states that didn't expand Medicaid for its low-income residents. The 78,000 people in the health gap also make too little to qualify for tax credits to purchase private insurance.

Tobacco prevention is another major focus of the report, as the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the country.

Idaho has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country, and allows people to buy tobacco products at age 18 - both of which Cavener says make it harder to reduce the rate of tobacco use.

"You can either increase the tax and make it so expensive that people never try, or you can increase the age that those lifelong habits are formed," he adds. "And we feel it's the best solution right now in Idaho to increase that age from 18 to 21, to reduce that lifelong addiction rate."

Cavener says Idahoans have an aversion to higher taxes, and a bill to raise the smoking age failed in this year's legislature. He expects to see another try next year.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID