Cancer Advocates Urge Senate to Support Restoration and Increase of Health Program Funding

March 14, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- March 14, 2006 -- Following congressional approval last December of funding cuts for cancer research and programs and last month’s release of President Bush’s budget proposal that recommends further funding reductions, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM today urged senators to support a budget amendment by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would restore these cuts and increase funding for medical research and programs.

The Specter-Harkin amendment would provide an additional $7 billion for health and education programs, setting the stage for funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).

“Because of the cuts Congress approved last year, those on the front lines of the war against cancer are being asked to continue our amazing progress against this disease with a deep deficit of resources,” said Daniel E. Smith, the Society’s national vice president, government relations. “We hope the Senate will not repeat the immediate past and instead vote to restore and increase federal support for lifesaving cancer research and programs.”

President Bush’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007 would provide no new funding for NIH and would cut total NCI funding by $40 million and total CDC funding by $179 million. The Society is especially concerned about the $1.4 million cut designated for the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Even with existing funding, this program, which provides uninsured and underinsured women with cancer screenings, can serve only one in five eligible women. The total cut for all cancer programs at the CDC would be $3.2 million. In addition, funding for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health would be cut by $2.1 million.

The President’s proposal would place NCI’s budget approximately $70 million behind where it was two years ago and $186 million below what the Congressional Budget Office estimates is needed to maintain current projects.

“The decrease in funding for cancer specific research and programs could not come at a more inopportune time,” said Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD, the Society’s national volunteer president. “Last month we celebrated one of the greatest milestones in cancer history when the Society announced that for the first time in seven decades, the number of Americans who died from cancer fell from the previous year. This achievement clearly demonstrates the importance of the nation’s sound investment in cancer research and programs. Now is not the time to become apathetic and retreat from our commitment to cancer patients, survivors and their families. We are only now reaping the benefits of the investment made in cancer over the past 20-30 years. If we continue to cut support, we mortgage our future.”

Cancer takes a significant toll on the U.S. economy, costing the nation $210 billion a year in direct medical costs, lost wages and productivity. It is also the leading cause of death for all Americans under age 85, killing 1,500 people a day. The Society estimates that 1,399,790 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and another 564,830 will die from the disease. There are currently more than 10 million cancer survivors living in America today.

The Society and its sister advocacy organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, are leading efforts to secure broad, bipartisan congressional support for a sincere and sustained federal investment in the fight against cancer. Prior to this year’s State of the Union Address, more than 10,000 cancer advocates sent postcards to the White House asking the President to make cancer a national priority. Last fall, more than 23,000 Society volunteers contacted their Members of Congress to voice opposition to cuts in funding for cancer and more than 17,000 sent postcards to ask Congress to specifically provide support for the NBCCEDP.

The Society and its volunteers will call nationwide attention to this need with Celebration on the Hill 2006, a unique event that will bring 10,000 cancer advocates to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this Sept. 19 and 20.

The American Cancer Society is partnering with ACS CAN, its sister advocacy organization, to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across America. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit ACS CAN, a nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy organization, uses voter education and issue campaigns aimed at influencing candidates and lawmakers to support laws and policies that will help people fight cancer. ACS CAN does not endorse candidates and is not a political action committee (PAC). For more information, visit

Colleen Wilber
Phone: (202) 661-5772
Email: [email protected]

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