The cancer center at UAMS treats about 150,000 people every year, but it can do better. That’s why the center is working to gain designation as a national cancer center, which would enormously increase the amount of research grants it receives.
More importantly, it would significantly improve the availability of specialty cancer treatment for Arkansas residents.
Earlier this year, the legislature took the necessary steps for the UAMS cancer center to qualify for the national designation. It will become one of 70 national cancer centers in the United States.
The improvements will cost about $10.5 million, which we’ll pay for with taxes on rolling papers and medical marijuana. Also, the state will collect more sales taxes on cigarette purchases because the regulated minimum price of tobacco is going up.
There will be multiple benefits for Arkansas residents diagnosed with cancer.
For example, for many types of cancer we just assume that treatment requires trips to M.D. Anderson in Houston, or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. That will no longer be the case.
Too many families simply could not afford those extended trips out of state, and they had to settle for treatment that was less than the best.
That should change within a few years, because of the investments we made in UAMS.
Cancer research has made tremendous progress in the past few decades, and treatment options are improving rapidly.
By the way, national designation will have a significant economic impact as well. Based on the experience of centers in other states, it is estimated that 1,500 new jobs will be created in the high-demand field of medical research.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.