Washington, D.C.— The administration released its FY21 budget today which contains significant cuts to health care programs. If implemented, the cuts could leave millions more Americans uninsured and unable to access comprehensive health coverage and stall medical research essential to preventing, detecting and treating cancer.
The budget cuts funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $3 billion, including a nearly $500 million cut for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and reduces cancer prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by almost $44 million while combining numerous chronic illness prevention programs—including the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH)—into one single program with no guarantee that tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives would continue. The budget also proposes eliminating the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) role regulating the tobacco industry instead replacing it with a new agency with a Senate-confirmed head within the Department of Health and Human Services.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
Access to Care
“If implemented, the administration’s budget would leave millions more Americans unable to access comprehensive health care coverage whether that be through the private market with health care subsidies or through essential public programs such as Medicaid.
“Medicaid serves as a safety-net for more than 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer. Ensuring it is appropriately funded is critical for reducing the country’s cancer burden and saving lives through prevention, early detection and treatment.
“The budget does offer some relief for seniors by capping out-of-pocket prescription costs for those on Medicare Part D and allowing some low-income enrollees to be spared cost-sharing on generic drugs. These would be welcome changes and could help enrollees better afford their care.
“The proposed cuts to NIH and NCI funding included in this budget would squander years of renewed momentum and progress in advancing discovery in cancer and other chronic diseases.
“These investments have long enjoyed strong bipartisan support and have led to incredible understanding in how to detect, diagnose and treat cancer that still claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans each year.
“The president has signaled his interest and desire for continued progress reducing cancer incidence and deaths. Increasing research investment—not cutting it—is indispensable to that effort.
“We know colorectal cancer can be prevented with regularly-scheduled screenings which is why we are pleased to see the budget includes a provision that would eliminate cost-sharing for seniors on Medicare who are hit with a surprise bill during a routine screening colonoscopy when a polyp is discovered and removed during the same procedure. However, those not yet on Medicare also need access to colonoscopies and other proven cancer screenings. Increased investment in CDC cancer control programs would accelerate our progress against the disease for everyone, while eliminating these programs and cutting funding will hurt low-income, underinsured Americans.
“Cutting the CDC’s chronic disease budget by 34% and eliminating specific funding for tobacco control programs threatens to substantially weaken, if not eliminate, vital efforts to reduce the number one preventable cause of cancer: tobacco. And the proposal to strip the FDA of its ability to regulate the tobacco industry amid an ongoing youth e-cigarette epidemic is shortsighted. Creating a new agency with politically-appointed leadership would give the tobacco industry far too much influence over future tobacco regulation.
“Budgets reflect priorities. Preserving millions of peoples’ access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage and continuing to invest in medical research to save the most lives from cancer as possible should always be a top priority. On behalf all Americans expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year and their families, we urge Congress to reject these cuts and ensure access to health care and cancer research remains among our nation’s top priorities.”