Statement of Daniel E. Smith, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- February 5, 2007 -- “The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is deeply disappointed that the President once again has proposed insufficient funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“This is not a budget that the nationwide cancer community was hoping for after the President’s visit to NIH last month to tout an historic decline in cancer deaths. The President has proposed funding levels that are inadequate at best and could threaten our progress against the disease Americans fear most. His proposal includes $28.7 billion for NIH and $4.8 billion for NCI, which are similar to current funding levels but are likely to drop below what Congress provides in its continuing resolution for FY07, which is expected to provide additional funds for NIH.
“The President’s proposal includes $5.8 billion for the CDC, a cut from this year. He also proposes to cut the budget of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities by $5 million. President Bush’s proposal cuts more than $100 million from the Medicare and Medicaid programs over the next five years, which could put seniors and low-income populations at further risk of falling through the cracks when it comes to the treatment and screenings they need to defeat cancer.
“Last year the American Cancer Society announced that cancer deaths nationwide dropped in 2003 for the first time in recorded history, and two weeks ago we reported an even bigger drop for 2004. In his appearance at NIH to herald the positive news, the President said ‘the reason it makes sense to spend taxpayers’ money on cancer research is that we can make some good progress.’
“We agree with the President on the obvious benefits of funding our nation’s cancer programs. Unfortunately, the actions of his White House and recent Congresses haven’t lived up to his words. Last year Congress voted to cut the NIH budget for the first time in 35 years and cancer research funding for the first time in more than a decade, and President Bush today proposed his second consecutive budget that seeks to cut cancer research funding. Late last year, Congress passed and the President signed NIH reauthorization legislation that envisions much higher funding levels for NIH than currently exist.
“ACS CAN and our partners in the public health community have been working aggressively to educate lawmakers about the critical need to increase our investment in medical research. Last week brought hopeful signs of progress, as Congressional leaders decided to add $620 million to the NIH budget in the continuing resolution for the current fiscal year. The House approved the continuing resolution by a strong margin, and we hope for similar success when the Senate considers the measure this week.
“ACS CAN believes that if our lawmakers commit to taking certain steps we could get our nation back on track toward conquering cancer. This is why we brought 10,000 cancer advocates to Washington, DC in September to meet with their Members of Congress and ask them to support policy changes that will make cancer a national priority. These policies are outlined in ACS CAN’s Congressional Cancer Promise, a short-term legislative roadmap for cancer progress supported by more than 300 lawmakers.
“Each day, too many Americans who hear the words ‘you have cancer’have limited options for beating the disease because their diagnosis came late or they have inadequate access to the care they need. It is critical that lawmakers support and expand federal programs that are bridging this gap, such as the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).
“Since 1991, this program has provided nearly 2.5 million low-income, uninsured and underinsured women with access to breast and cervical cancer screening exams through and following treatment. However, limited funding allows only 20 percent of eligible women to have access to the program, and President Bush proposed to cut funding for the program for two years running. We call on lawmakers to reauthorize the program and increase funding this year by $48 million, enough to provide screenings for at least an additional 130,000 women.
“Cancer costs the country more than $206 billion a year in direct medical costs, lost wages and lost productivity. This year more than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and 559,000 will die from it. For a small fraction of the disease’s costs we could accelerate its defeat. As the leading cause of death for Americans under 85, cancer must be a priority for our nation. As this year’s budget discussions proceed, we stand ready to work with lawmakers who recognize the importance of the government’s role in eliminating this disease as a major public health problem.”
ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan sister advocacy organization of the American Cancer Society. ACS CAN is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major public health problem through issue campaigns and voter campaigns aimed at influencing lawmakers and candidates 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 www.fightcancer.org.
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