Improving the Nation’s Health Care System Should Be Top Priority in State of the Union Address

Addressing Access to Care, Patient Costs and Research Are Essential

February 4, 2020

Washington, D.C., February 4, 2020 — Cancer patients, survivors and caregivers will tune into the president’s State of the Union address tonight, watching to see if the president will commit to improving the nation’s health care system by preserving access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage, including addressing the issue of surprise bills and affordability of prescription drugs, as well as investing in life-saving cancer research and prevention. ACS CAN Delaware volunteer and cancer survivor Jan White will be following the speech in person, as a guest of Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester.

A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“Tonight, the president has the opportunity to make clear his commitment to improving the lives of nearly 17 million American cancer survivors and the more than 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with the disease this year by strengthening the health care system, addressing rising health care costs and investing in live-saving cancer research and prevention.

“Specifically, the president should strongly advocate for legislation to end surprise medical bills for patients. These unexpected bills, which happen when a patient inadvertently receives care or services out of their insurance network, are often difficult for cancer patients to afford and add stress to an already challenging time for patients and their families. According to a recent ACS CAN Survivor Views survey, nearly a quarter of all cancer patients and survivors have experienced a surprise medical bill, the majority of which were over $500.

“Affordability is also a serious concern for patients in Medicare. Cancer is a disease more common with age and can be very expensive to treat. For Medicare enrollees who currently face unlimited cost sharing for some of their prescription drugs, the financial burden can be overwhelming. We urge the president to aggressively pursue establishment of an annual cap for outpatient prescription drug costs – a plan this administration previously supported - that would enable patients to plan for their expenses and provide some financial relief for a population often on fixed incomes.

“Increased investment in medical research is also essential to continuing to reduce incidence and deaths from cancer for all populations, regardless of race, ethnicity or geographic location. The president has expressed his support for improved cancer outcomes, especially through greater resources for childhood cancer research and we commend the administration for elevating the issue.

“Federally-funded cancer research is the engine that drives ongoing progress in the fight against pediatric and adult cancers and we call on the president to commit to increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute in his forthcoming budget.

“Health care is among the most pressing issues facing our nation and on behalf of cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones we urge the president to make fighting this disease a top national priority. ACS CAN stands ready to work with the president and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to ensure cancer-fighting policy and legislation are at the top of their agenda.”

Media Contacts

Alissa Crispino
VP, Media Advocacy and Communications