From April 4-8, U.S. members of the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) participated in the 2022 ASCO Week of Action, which was held in conjunction with the Association’s annual Advocacy Summit. During the Week of Action, advocates from across the country sent a record 920 letters to Members of Congress through ASCO’s ACT Network urging them to take action on important policies to improve access to high-quality, equitable care for people with cancer. During the Advocacy Summit, 132 ASCO members from 43 states and the District of Columbia held nearly 200 virtual meetings with Members of Congress and staff to urge action on the same issues.
ASCO advocates urged lawmakers to:
- Protect patients from delays in care caused by prior authorization and step therapy that can be unnecessary, burdensome, and potentially harmful.
- Improve telehealth availability by ensuring patients can access telehealth services regardless of their location once the public health emergency has ended by permanently removing geographic and originating site restrictions.
- Increase diversity in clinical trials by eliminating barriers to clinical trial participation and allowing patient reimbursement of ancillary (non-medical) expenses.
- Support cancer research by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) for FY2023.
During the Advocacy Summit, ASCO presented its annual Congressional Champions for Cancer Care Award to Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) and Fred Upton (R-MI-6) in recognition of their commitment to legislation that focuses on medical innovation. Reps. DeGette and Upton jointly introduced and led efforts to pass the 21st Century Cures Act into law with strong bipartisan support in 2016 and are now spearheading Cures 2.0, which includes a number of ASCO advocacy priorities, including expanding access to and diversity in clinical trials, improving access to telehealth, and supporting biomedical research.
ASCO also presented its Advocate of the Year Award to Edward Balaban, DO, FACP, FASCO, for his valuable contributions to ASCO’s advocacy efforts. In 2021 alone, Dr. Balaban sent letters to his lawmakers, participated in the ASCO Advocacy Summit, attended federal agency meetings with the Association’s Government Relations Committee, and continued his longstanding service as an ASCO delegate to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD).
Advocates again participated from their homes and offices rather than in person due to the ongoing public health emergency, but participants posted images, threads, and updates on social media to share their experiences, explain why these bills are a priority for the cancer community and make their voices heard on behalf of patients with cancer and their providers.
It’s not too late to join in ASCO’s advocacy efforts! ASCO members in the U.S. are still encouraged to send messages to their elected officials to urge them to support increased access to cancer care through the ASCO ACT Network.
News, advocacy, and analysis on cancer policy are available on ASCO in Action.