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Wyoming Struggles To Reduce Cancer Rates

American Cancer Society

According to a report by the American Cancer Society’s Action Network, Wyoming could do much more to reduce cancer rates. Each year, the report evaluates ten different policy areas that deal with prevention and quality of treatment in each state. Out of those ten areas, Wyoming only did well in two—oral chemotherapy fairness and funding for the state tobacco prevention program.

The biggest thing that would improve Wyoming’s score would be to expand Medicaid. Jason Mincer is a spokesman for the Wyoming chapter of the society’s Cancer Action Network. He says there is a direct correlation between failure to expand Medicaid and low access to cancer screenings and treatment. It is estimated that expanding Medicaid would provide 20,000 low-income Wyoming residents with health care coverage. Mincer says it would also go a long way towards preventing cancer.

“What we know is if you don’t have health insurance, you’re likely not going to get your screenings, or if you do, you’re going to be in a much later stage of cancer,” says Mincer.

Mincer also says Wyoming’s tobacco education and quitting programs are in good shape, but increasing the Wyoming tobacco sales tax would decrease smoking rates and increase state revenue. 

“The good part about this report is that none of the areas that it focuses on require money to implement, so these are all pieces that could be implemented that would not be affected by the budget shortfalls that we have right now in Wyoming.”

Wyoming’s tobacco sales tax is one of the lowest in the nation. A measure to increase that sales tax will be discussed by the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee in September. 

Credit Cancer Action Network

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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