ACS CAN Lets State Leaders Know of Important Budget Recommendations
December 21, 2021
Hon. Phil Murphy, Governor
State of New Jersey
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Murphy,
On behalf of the 543,190 cancer survivors in New Jersey, I am writing to formally request that you ensure that your 2022-2023 state budget message and recommendations bolster New Jersey’s commitment to reducing our state’s cancer rate, helps identify cancers at their earliest and often most treatable stage, and ensures that cancer patients are adequately supported as they battle this devastating disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that 53,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in New Jersey and over 15,000 cancer deaths will occur in the state in 2021,[i] making it the second leading cause of death in the state. Your support is critical for enhanced funding for the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection Screening Program (NJCEED) which we have detailed below.
Cancer patients have long faced significant barriers to accessing care. COVID-19 has magnified these barriers, with 46% of cancer patients and survivors reporting a change in their ability to pay for care due to the pandemic, and 79% experiencing delays in active treatment. Various studies at institutions in the United States have shown a substantial decline in cancer screening rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that fewer cancers will be detected by screening and when they do manifest, they will be at more advanced stages. Indeed, cancer-related mortality rates have also increased during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also shone a spotlight on health disparities across populations. Individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to be uninsured, increasing the likelihood they will be diagnosed with advanced cancer. The 5-year relative survival rate is lower in Blacks than in Whites for every stage of diagnosis in the four most common cancer sites.
Cancer screening saves lives. Detecting cancer early increases the chances of successful treatment, improves survival rates, and saves New Jersey overall on medical costs. For example, research shows that the earlier breast cancer is treated and detected, the better the survival rate. When breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage while still confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
Health care professionals across the state are working overtime to get people back to regular screening. However, to ensure that all New Jerseyans are getting their doctor recommended cancer screening, we need the state of New Jersey to do its part.
Budget Recommendation—We need your administration to increase funding for the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection Screening Program (NJCEED). NJCEED offers a critically important service to men and women who lack health insurance – screening for breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer at no cost to the patient. Detected early, these cancers are more effectively treated. Failing to have these cancers detected early can lead to deadly consequences.
Published research on the success of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which partially funds and guides the state screening program, demonstrates a substantial impact on reducing mortality from breast cancer in medically uninsured, women with limited incomes. These evidence-based findings justify the state’s investment in NJCEED and the early detection of cancer. With thousands of New Jerseyans having delayed screening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we continue these lifesaving cancer screening programs.
The final 2021-2022 state budget inexplicably reduced state funding for NJCEED from $3.5 million in FY 2020-2021 to a $3.1 million in FY 2021-2022—an 11.4% cut. After nearly two years of patients delaying care, including accessing their doctor recommended cancer screening, funding to NJCEED must not only be restored but increased. A recent poll of New Jersey voters commissioned by ACS CAN and conducted by Target Smart found that nearly 9-in-10 voters support increasing funding for NJCEED.[ii]
ACS CAN is respectfully requesting that you increase funding for NJCEED to $5,000,000 in Fiscal Year 2022-2023. This modest increase in funding would ensure that NJCEED funded lead agencies can adequately serve their existing patients and expand outreach to those in need.
To conclude, ACS CAN’s mission is to support evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. With your support of the NJCEED program, you can play a significant role in reducing New Jersey’s cancer rate; help identify cancers at their earliest- and often most treatable- stage and ensure that cancer patients are adequately supported as they battle this devastating disease.
While COVID-19 may continue to shape how we live, we must not forget all of those who have been lost to cancer and all of those who will be lost to cancer in 2022. We must do all that we can to ensure that New Jerseyans get back to lifesaving cancer screening. We hope that we can count on you in the fight against cancer.
New York City & New Jersey Government Relations Director
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Steven Sweeney, President, New Jersey Senate
Thomas H. Kean Jr., Republican Leader, New Jersey Senate
Loretta Weinberg, Majority Leader, New Jersey Senate
Joseph Vitale, Senator & Chairperson, New Jersey Senate Health Committee
Craig Coughlin, Speaker, New Jersey General Assembly
Louis D. Greenwald, Majority Leader, New Jersey General Assembly
Jon M. Bramnick, Republican Leader, New Jersey General Assembly
Herb Conaway, Assembly member, New Jersey General Assembly
[i] American Cancer Society, “Cancer Facts & Figures, 2020.” Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2020.
[ii] American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, “2021 Public Policy Poll, 2021.” https://www.fightcancer.org/states/new-jersey/NJPolicyPoll