At the 2019 ASCO Advocacy Summit, ASCO members from 35 states held more than 160 Congressional meetings, urging Members of Congress to take action to advance policy priorities that improve patient access to cancer care, including clinical trials.
Specifically, ASCO volunteers asked Members of Congress to support:
- The CLINICAL TREATMENT Act (H.R. 913), which would improve access to clinical trials for patients with Medicaid.
- The Safe Step Act (H.R. 2279), which would add reasonable guardrails to protect patients from harmful step therapy protocols. With the help of ASCO’s advocacy efforts, a Senate companion bill (S. 2546) was introduced during the Advocacy Summit by Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Doug Jones (AL), and Lisa Murkowski (AK).
- The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3107), which would help protect patients from unnecessary care delays due to the prior authorization process.
- Reforms to MACRA to ensure that cancer care providers can sustain their practices and invest in more efficient models of care delivery that better serve Medicare beneficiaries
At a reception on Capitol Hill, ASCO presented its “Congressional Leadership Award” to Reps. Ben Ray Luján (NM) and Gus Bilirakis (FL) to recognize them for their commitment to advancing policies to support research and improve the practice environment.
During a breakfast meeting at the Advocacy Summit, ASCO advocates heard from Rep. Roger Marshall, MD (KS), one of the lead sponsors of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act. In his remarks, he said his philosophy is that the patient and physician should decide “where, when, and how” treatment is given. Advocates also heard from Rep. Angie Craig (MN), who announced during the breakfast that she would sign on as a cosponsor of the CLINICAL TREATMENT Act.
ASCO also presented its “Advocate of the Year Award” to Alexandra Thomas, MD, for her significant advocacy work on behalf of individuals living with cancer and their cancer care teams. “Alexandra has made a tremendous commitment to advocacy over the past year,” said ASCO Government Relations Committee Chair Melissa Dillmon, MD, FASCO. “Her work to ensure that the needs of her patients – as well as all people with cancer in our country – are being met through conscientious health policy and legislation is admirable.” ASCO also recognized its advocacy champions who have been exceptionally active in ASCO’s advocacy activities.
Throughout the Summit, advocates shared images, videos, updates, and more on social media to amplify the voice of the society’s advocacy efforts on behalf of patients. Advocates also joined in ASCO’s “I Live to Conquer Cancer” initiative by sharing videos, stories, and answering the question “Why do I live to conquer cancer?” Listen to coverage of the event in the ASCO in Action Podcast.
ASCO members can continue to support the society’s advocacy efforts by using the ACT Network to send messages to their elected officials to encourage them to support better access to cancer care.
Stay connected to all the policies affecting cancer research and care through ASCO in Action.