Governor signs six bills to combat cancer

In a celebration last week at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center, Gov. Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed six pieces of legislation that will further cancer-related research, treatment and education throughout the state.

“While we can celebrate that more and more Virginians are surviving cancer today because of the work of cancer organizations like Massey, we must continue to work to find a cure,” McDonnell said.

State support to the Massey Cancer Center rose from $1 million to $7.5 million in the past two years, and with House Bill 1182 – one of the measures signed Monday – the center will now be able to apply for research grants from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Fund.

“Massey serves on the front lines of the war on cancer, and the work done here exemplifies VCU’s laser focus on research that makes a difference and our unwavering commitment to human health,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “What you do inspires everyone.”

Rao expressed delight in hosting McDonnell as well as gratitude toward the state government “for investing additional resources in Massey’s ground-breaking and valuable research.”

“Every year, more than 35,000 Virginians are diagnosed with cancer,” said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. “That’s why it is so important for us to do everything we can to combat this disease and promote effective programs to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. We can accomplish this goal by promoting healthy living, investing in cancer research and treatment, and advancing legislative solutions like those the governor is signing today.”

McDonnell also signed:

• HB 83, sponsored by Delegate Robert Orrock, R-Thornburg, and Senate Bill 544, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke. These companion bills require doctors to tell women having mammograms whether they have dense breast tissue that could hide cancer.

• HB 1273, sponsored by Delegate Christopher Peace, R-Mechanicsville, and SB 450, by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester. These bills require health insurers to pay the same for orally administered cancer chemotherapy drugs as they do for intravenous therapy.

• House Joint Resolution 120, sponsored by Mark D. Sickles, D-Franconia. It establishes Sept. 26 in Virginia as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in the protective lining that covers the body’s internal organs. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.

House Speaker William Howell of Stafford and various legislators attended the bill-signing ceremony.

Also present were representatives of the Women’s Clubs of Virginia, the Medical Society of Virginia, the National Patient Advocate Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
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