Advocates Were Among the First to Meet In-Person with Members Since the Pandemic’s Start; Will Ask For Increased Cancer Research Funding
Cancer Advocates Detail Policies Necessary to Reach New Cancer Moonshot Goal
Increased Medical Research Funding, Stronger Tobacco Control Measures and Access to Health Coverage Among Top Priorities
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ahead of the president’s State of the Union Address, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is offering numerous policy suggestions for ways in which the administration and Congress can achieve the president’s ambitious Cancer Moonshot goal of significantly reducing cancer incidence and deaths in the next 25 years.
In a letter sent to congressional leadership and the president, ACS CAN detailed numerous policies that would help prevent, detect, and treat cancer starting with increased funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and separate funding for the president’s proposed Advanced Research Project on Health (ARPA-H).
Federal funding for cancer research is the bedrock of medical discoveries and has played a role in every major cancer breakthrough for more than 50 years. The pace of progress in cancer research is accelerating, yet NCI cannot keep up with the demand. Grant requests to NCI rose 50% between 2013 and 2019 compared to just 5.6% at the other Institutes.
“When you consider the number of potentially transformative grants that are going unfunded, it’s clear the need to act is urgent,” said Dr. Karen Knudsen, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN. “More resources for research, along with the prospects of ARPA-H working to better bridge the gap between the lab and the patient, could result in remarkable advancements and significant impact.”
Cancer prevention and access to comprehensive health coverage are also critical to achieving the Moonshot goal. The American Cancer Society is launching two national roundtables—one on breast and the other on cervical cancer—to drive progress and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families as a direct response to the Moonshot. Other prevention measures detailed in the letter include numerous tobacco related policies that would reduce cancer incidence, like taxing all tobacco products at the same rate to encourage people to quit, rather than switch products based on price, increased funding for the Office of Smoking and Health (OSH) to provide resources to state tobacco cessation and control efforts, and requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its authority to protect public health from electronic cigarettes, eliminate flavored tobacco products and regulate nicotine levels in cigarettes and other products to non-addictive levels. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of cancer.
Ensuring people have comprehensive, affordable health coverage continues to be a top priority. The letter urges Congress to make increased tax subsidies for purchase of private coverage on the marketplace permanent, close the Medicaid coverage gap, which would extend health coverage to 2.2 million people, and cap Medicare Part D out-of-pocket drug costs, as the most important means to improve patients’ access to care. It also makes clear the need for Medicare coverage of multi-cancer screening tests once these tests are approved by FDA and clinical benefit is shown.
“Expanding access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage is among the single most important steps Congress can take to reduce incidence, suffering and death from cancer,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Ensuring people who gained coverage through additional subsidies for marketplace plans are able to keep their coverage and that the people who should have coverage can get it in the 12 states that have yet to expand Medicaid is vital. People on Medicare—many of whom have limited budgets—also need to have a limit on their drug costs. Congress and the administration should implement these proven policies to meet the Moonshot goal and save more lives from cancer. Doing so would have a significant impact on the health of millions of Americans”
Its estimated more than 1.9 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 600,000 will die from the disease.
Read the full letter.