Cancer Advocates Call on President Obama to Continue to Make Public Health a Top National Priority

February 24, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- February 24, 2009 -- Cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones are calling on the President to continue to make access to quality health care and prevention a top national priority following recent passage of the stimulus bill. Cancer advocates will gather across the country tonight to watch President Obama lay out his legislative agenda during his first address to a joint session of Congress, sending a message to the White House and Congress that cancer-related issues should be high on the national to-do list.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is organizing watch parties around the country to kick off its 2009 campaign to increase access to quality health care, grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco products, and increase cancer research funding.

“We are going to make sure that elected officials know we are paying attention and that short-changing cancer-related priorities is not an option,” said Daniel E. Smith, president of ACS CAN, an advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.

Accessing quality health care is a struggle for 46 million Americans who are uninsured and 25 million who are underinsured, numbers that are likely to grow as a result of the struggling economy. Cancer advocates will be looking to President Obama to discuss his plan to take decisive action on comprehensive health care reform early this year, and to reflect the importance of that effort in his upcoming budget.

During the watch parties, cancer advocates will view a video that accompanied a recently released report from the American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Family Foundation that illustrated the financial struggles cancer patients face, even when they have health insurance. The video and study examine several failures of the current health care system through the eyes of 20 cancer patients and survivors who called the American Cancer Society’s National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas.

“Our sick-care system needs to shift focus to prevention and wellness,” said Robert E. Youle, Chairman of ACS CAN’s Board of Directors. “Cancer patients are all too familiar with the gaps that exist in the health care system. We have to make sure any health care reform includes access to quality, affordable care that allows patients to focus on getting better and staying better, rather than stressing about how to pay their medical bills.”

By granting the FDA the authority to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco products, lawmakers will take a major step to reduce the scourge of Big Tobacco on our nation’s children. In the 110th Congress, the Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act passed the House by a substantial bipartisan majority of 326-102 and garnered 60 cosponsors in the Senate, including then-Senator Obama. This critical piece of legislation, supported by over 900 public health groups, is long overdue.

Now is the time for the President to make good on his campaign promises and renew the war on cancer by getting funding and other cancer specific issues back on track.

Flat-funding over the past six years has resulted in the scaling back and elimination of promising cancer research programs. While the stimulus bill will help to get the budget for cancer funding back on track, with approximately $1.2 billion going to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), that substantial investment must continue to grow so that lifesaving research continues uninterrupted for years to come.  Increased research funding has a direct impact on our nation’s ability to fight cancer and reduce cancer mortality.

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit

Steve Weiss
Phone: (202) 661-5711
Email: [email protected]

Alissa Havens
Phone: (202) 661-5772
Email: [email protected]

More Press Releases AboutAccess to Health Care