The Wisconsin Cancer Caucus is a few steps closer to becoming a reality. If created, the Caucus would serve as a forum for state lawmakers to learn about topics spanning the cancer continuum – from updated information on prevention, advances in treatment, to issues affecting survivorship, and more.
Throughout August and September, proponents of the Wisconsin Cancer Caucus met with more than a dozen legislators from both parties to float the concept and recruit support.
By design, the Caucus would be bipartisan, bicameral, and open to all members of the state legislature. Eleven other states have established cancer caucuses or are in the process of doing so.
Instead of discussing specific bills, Caucus members would engage in broad conversation guided by members’ interests and informed by health care experts.
Currently the WI Cancer Council sponsors a legislative drop once every two years – which serves as an opportunity to introduce the WI Cancer Council to legislators, share data on the cancer burden in their districts, and position the Council as an educational resource for policymakers on cancer prevention and control issues.
“I’m viewing the Cancer Caucus as a permanent legislative drop,” said Courtney Harris, WI CCC Program policy coordinator. “It would provide us the opportunity to regularly educate lawmakers about cancer-related issues before advocates or lobbyists approach them with a particular bill.”
Paul Westrick, Steering Committee chair, was inspired to organize the Wisconsin Cancer Caucus after witnessing the debate around the Oral Chemotherapy Parity Bill three years ago. During that debate, several legislators stood up to offer their personal cancer stories. To Westrick, this was yet another indication of the burden of cancer in Wisconsin. “Cancer is part of the human condition,” Westrick said. “Why not have this Caucus?”
Westrick is optimistic the Caucus will continue to attract support: “Our elected officials,” he said, “are dying to find something that is positive and bipartisan.”
The WI Comprehensive Cancer Control Program will keep WI Cancer Council members updated on specific ways you can participate in and support the efforts to create the Cancer Caucus.