ASCO and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) hosted a reception on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress and their staff to underscore the two organizations’ shared policy priorities to improve research and cancer care delivery for patients and cancer survivors.
During the reception, ASCO and ACS CAN released their shared priorities which includes increased federal funding for cancer research. The groups are asking Congress to provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $41.6 billion for fiscal year 2020, including $6.5 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Addressing lawmakers who attended the event, ASCO President-elect, Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, said “We are here tonight to offer ourselves as a resource. Together, ASC CAN and ASCO are working to make a difference for cancer patients and we stand united in our support for funding of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.”
In addition, policymakers were urged to pass legislation to improve patient access to clinical trials and cancer treatment. Specifically, both groups support the CLINICAL TREATMENT Act, legislation that will remove barriers for Medicaid patients to enroll in clinical trials; the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act, which will increase the workforce, education, and research on palliative care; the Cancer Drug Parity Act, which will promote parity for oral anticancer drugs; and the Safe Step Act, a measure that will ensure patients with private insurance have reasonable protections against harmful step therapy practices.
Several Members of Congress who attended the reception used the opportunity to convey their support for federally funded cancer research. “The growth that has been made over the last five years in fighting cancer has just been enormous, but we still have a ways to go,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-2) in his remarks during the event. “I look forward to getting closer to the day when we will tackle cancer.” “If America doesn’t lead in cancer research, there is no leadership in the world,” added Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26).
ASCO and ACS CAN also asked Congressional lawmakers to urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to protect patients with cancer by rejecting proposed regulatory changes that would allow step therapy in Medicare Advantage plans, rejecting proposed changes to Medicare Part D’s six protected classes, and ensuring that any policy changes to the Part B program protect patients from large out-of-pocket costs.