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Chris Hansen's Monthly Advocacy Update

ACCESS TO CARE

ACS CAN Hosts National Forum on the Future of Health Care

On April 11, leaders in business, government, advocacy, academia, and public policy participated in ACS CAN's sixth annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care in Washington, DC.

The goal of the day-long forum was to examine the next steps in changing our health care system – with a specific look at what cancer patients need from a health care system.

Experts explored the status of the current health care debate, changes needed to improve access and affordability, market stability, and potential approaches to system change at both the federal and state levels.

In conjunction with the forum, ACS CAN released a new report, The Costs of Cancer, which examines direct costs associated with cancer with a focus on typical out-of-pocket costs incurred by a cancer patient. The report provides the total amount of out-of-pocket costs U.S. cancer patients nationwide pay for cancer treatment and examines three hypothetical patients with different cancers and what each might pay under employer-sponsored insurance, an individual plan and through Medicare. It does not account for indirect costs surrounding a diagnosis (such as lost productivity/work, legal fees, etc.). The report also suggests state and federal policies that could address patient costs.

The report underscores the need for patients to look not only at monthly premiums, but also consider the value of their insurance through the lens of up-front costs, deductibles, out of pocket maximums and the adequacy of the coverage they receive for the cost.

House Republicans Withdraw Bills to Replace Health Care Law

On March 24, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew legislation to replace the health care law.

While preserving some patient protections, the legislation would have had the net effect of shifting health insurance costs to low and middle-income patients. And the inclusion of an increased age-rating would have proven particularly burdensome for cancer patients as incidents of cancer increase with age. The legislation would also have significantly reduced the standards of what constitutes quality insurance, curtailed Medicaid expansion and, over time, substantially reduced overall Medicaid funding.

ACS CAN's goal from the beginning has been to urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to fix the portions of the current law that are not functioning properly so that it is strengthened and improved in ways that reduce the national cancer burden. We have purposely positioned ourselves as a resource to help federal legislators do just that.  As part of that positioning, our staff and volunteers executed a deliberate campaign to educate lawmakers on the adverse impact certain aspects of the proposed legislation would have had on those with a history of cancer or are at risk.

We elevated the patients voice through volunteer mobilization, media advocacy, social media campaigns, direct lobbying and coalition work, placing a targeted effort on House and Senate members from 15 key states. Our "Keep Us Covered" Campaign placed the voice of cancer patients, survivors and their families front and center of the debate.

In meetings with lawmakers, patient stories were particularly effective at providing the cancer perspective and illustrating how insurance market reforms in the current law provided greater access to preventative screenings and quality comprehensive health insurance coverage.

The morning of March 24, before the legislation was ultimately withdrawn, ACS CAN communicated with Members of Congress about last-minute changes meant to appeal to conservative lawmakers. We expressed our concern that removing the essential health benefits standard requirement would be especially problematic for the cancer community.

Currently, while the House and Senate are in Recess through April 21, ACS CAN staff and volunteers are redoubling efforts to educate lawmakers by attending town halls and scheduling meetings with members in their districts – like this April 11 health care reform dialogue event with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

While efforts to repeal the health care law are currently delayed, changes continue to be considered. ACS CAN is closely monitoring developments.

CMS Releases Final ACA Market Stabilization Rule

Late yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule aimed at stabilizing the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) individual health insurance market. The rule could impede patients' access to special enrollment periods (SEPs), reduce the number of Essential Community Providers with which plans must contract and decrease the actuarial value of some plans sold in the marketplace—leaving patients susceptible to higher out-of-pocket costs.

ACS CAN submitted detailed comments to CMS March 7, when the rule was first proposed. The final rule, which is largely unchanged from the proposed version, did not address the concerns raised by ACS CAN regarding potential impact on those with a history of cancer.

ACTIVITIES IN THE STATES

  • The Arkansas legislature passed a bill that will provide parity in health coverage between oral chemotherapy and IV administered chemotherapy. The legislature also passed a colorectal cancer screening bill setting up a state-wide screening program for underserved individuals. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed both bills into law making Arkansas the 43rd state with oral chemotherapy parity.
  • On March 1, the Iowa legislature passed a bill allowing pharmacists to substitute interchangeable biologic medications. The measure, signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, met ACS CAN's patient protection standards and there is hope that the substitutions may prove less expensive. The law is effective July 1 and brings the count of states allowing biologic medication substitutions to 23.

CANCER RESEARCH, PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION

President's Budget Proposes Cuts to Cancer Research

The President's budget proposal, released March 16, covers funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year (FY17) and next year (FY18). The federal government is the nation's largest single funder of cancer research and prevention. The budget submitted to Congress would:

  • cut funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $1.2 billion;
  • scale back programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including funding for state cancer registries and tobacco control, by $65 million this year (FY17);
  • reduce funding to the NIH by an additional $5.8 billion next year, including an estimated $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute (NCI); and
  • cut funding for cancer prevention and other chronic disease programs by half and consolidate them into block grants for states.

The proposed cut to the NIH budget for next year would constitute the largest reduction in medical research funding in history. If enacted, these cuts would also wipe out funding for the Cancer Moonshot initiative approved by Congress late last year with strong bipartisan support and the enabled funding in the 21st Century Cures Act. It would, in effect, set the NIH back nearly 20 years and prove disastrous.

The current temporary spending bill expires at the end of April and Congress is working to complete a final FY 2017 spending bill.  ACS CAN's grassroots network has been actively engaged since the budget proposal was released. We are urging lawmakers from all parties to reject these steep budget cuts and sustain critical investment in lifesaving, innovative research and cancer prevention programs by increasing funding for the NIH this year. Roughly 12,000 volunteers have sent more than 36,000 messages to Members of Congress, urging them to protect medical research and prevention funding. Our "#NoCutsforCancer" hashtag has generated 750,000 impressions on Twitter and Instagram. We are also engaging representatives in their home districts during the House and Senate Recess to urge them to protect and expand cancer research funding.

We are particularly gratified that two of the most influential GOP lawmakers, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, have spoken out against cuts and in support of NIH funding. Sen. Blunt and Rep. Cole each chair the subcommittee with jurisdiction over Health and Human Services appropriations. These key committees set funding levels for the NIH. Both Sen. Blunt and Rep. Cole have made known their intention to press instead for Congress to raise, rather than cut, the institutes' annual $32 billion budget.

ACS CAN continues mobilize and engage representatives in their home districts during the House and Senate Recess to urge them to support cancer research funding.

TOBACCO CONTROL

State & Local Advances

Kentucky passed legislation requiring all state insurers, including Medicaid and private insurers, to cover treatments recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for tobacco cessation. 

Notable tobacco control measures advanced in other communities as well.

Smoke-free

  • Two new local smoke-free ordinances, both including e-cigarettes, recently passed in the cities of Brookshire and New Braunfels, Texas. Even without a statewide smoke-free law, the size of Texas coupled with its number of similar local laws, mean that only four other states protect more residents from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places.
  • The cities of West Covina and Benicia, California each enacted a smoke-free parks ordinance. Benicia's ordinance became effective immediately and prohibits smoking in all parks, recreation trails and recreation facilities.
  • Beverly Hills, California strengthened its smoke-free outdoor dining ordinance by adopting amendments extending smoking regulations surrounding open-air dining from 5 to 20 feet and include public rights-of-way such as sidewalks and alleyways.
  • In Pennsylvania, the Allegheny County Council, which includes the greater Pittsburgh area, passed an ACS CAN-backed measure to include e-cigarettes in the county's smoke-free law. The ordinance took effect on March 20.
  • On March 6, Howard County, Indiana passed a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, including e-cigs, and simultaneously strengthened the existing ordinance in its county seat, Kokomo, by extending to bars and private clubs. The indoor measures were effective April 1, and will extend to events at outdoor parks on July 1.
  • On March 8, the Minneapolis Parks Board passed a policy making all city parks, recreation facilities, and buildings tobacco-free, including e-cigs and other tobacco products. Often ranked as the best city park system in the country, Minneapolis parks cover almost 7,000 acres and host over 21 million visits annually. The measure is effective May 8.

Tobacco-21

  • Guam currently has the highest adult smoking rate in the United States and its territories. On March 22, Guam's bill to raise the age of tobacco purchase to 21. A unanimous legislative vote was garnered by tireless advocacy of ACS CAN volunteers, including gathering over 1,500 petition signatures and presenting testimony by military veterans. The T21 measure (effective Jan 1, 2018) combined with last year's smoke-free law, should have a dramatic effect on future tobacco consumption.
  • Trenton, New Jersey raised the age of permissible sale of tobacco products from 19 to 21. The ACS CAN-backed measure became effective on March 8. 
  • On April 13, a newly-passed ordinance in Lane County, Oregon will prohibit anyone under age 21 from purchasing tobacco products.

QUALITY OF LIFE

Arkansas Passes Palliative Care Bill

Palliative care legislation which recently passed both legislative houses in Arkansas has been signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. This new law will call attention to the importance of palliative care by setting up a review committee and providing an outlet for the Arkansas Department of Health to share palliative care resources on its website. 

GLOBAL HEALTH

ACS CAN Hosts Group Effort to End Cervical Cancer Deaths Worldwide

On March 21, ACS CAN hosted a meeting of 23 organizations prepared to participate in an advocacy campaign to end cervical cancer deaths worldwide. The meeting, led in collaboration with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), examined cervical cancer advocacy efforts to date, wrestled with messaging and approaches to Congress and executive branch agencies, and decided on follow-on actions. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an independent affiliate of the George W. Bush Institute, is a global partnership of national governments, non-governmental (NGO) and multilateral organizations, foundations and corporations with a shared goal of reducing deaths from cervical cancer and breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries. 

Agreeing that cervical cancer should be a part of America's global health assistance program, the group is planning a Capitol Hill Day on April 25 in Washington, DC. Other advocacy actions underway include the circulation of sign-on letters to generate policymaker support and the inclusion of cervical cancer in future discussions with U.S. Government officials. These actions reinforce requests that ACS CAN and PRRR are making to congressional appropriators for specific language to be included in the FY18 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill.

  • New ACS CAN report examines expected patient out-of-pocket costs for common cancer diagnoses

    Cancer has a tremendous financial impact on patients and survivors, and their families, according a new American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) report.

    The Costs of Cancer, Addressing Patient Costs is the first ACS CAN report to examine the costs of treating cancer, and specifically the out-of-pocket portion patients face. Using three hypothetical patient profiles, the report looks at costs for three of the most common cancers—breast, lung, and colorectal under three types of insurance—employer-sponsored, Medicare, and an individual exchange plan.

    The report was released this morning at the organization's sixth annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care in Washington, D.C. The day-long forum is an opportunity for leaders in business, advocacy, academia, and public policy to come together to talk about changes in the health insurance market, and what cancer patients need from a health care system.

    Key report findings include:

    • U.S. cancer patients paid nearly $4 billion in out-of-pocket costs in 2014, and the disease cost the country $87.8 billion in cancer-related health care spending.
    • A lower-premium insurance plan may not actually save cancer patients money in the long run. These types of plans often have high cost-sharing and cancer patients are high utilizers of care.
    • Even with insurance, cancer patients often face unpredictable or unmanageable costs including high co-insurance, high deductibles, having to seek out-of-network care, and needing a treatment that is not covered by their health plan.

    The report also provides public policy recommendations for making cancer treatments more affordable for patients and survivors.

    The full Cost of Cancer report is available at acscan.org

    Access to quality health insurance is essential to making cancer care affordable for patients and survivors. ACS CAN is working to ensure people affected by cancer maintain access to uninterrupted insurance coverage, and those who are currently uninsured gain access to coverage that includes recommended cancer prevention and treatment. 

  • Health groups: Justice Department should recuse lawyers who represented tobacco companies from tobacco-related cases

    On March 27, four leading public health groups (including ACS CAN) urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to recuse any lawyers who previously represented tobacco companies from any tobacco-related litigation while serving in the government.

    The letter​ specifically expresses concerns about Noel Francisco, the nominee for solicitor general, and Chad Readler, currently acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Division, both of whom represented R.J. Reynolds in lawsuits against the government while they were partners at the law firm Jones Day.

    “Such recusals are essential to ensure the appearance of impartiality and to give the public the greatest possible confidence that decisions about the federal government’s litigation positions are taken solely based on the facts and the law to advance the public health and public interest,” the health groups wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    The letter was sent by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,  and Truth Initiative.​

    Francisco, the nominee for solicitor general, has long represented R.J. Reynolds in tobacco litigation. While at Jones Day, he represented R.J. Reynolds in the still-ongoing litigation over a U.S. district court order – issued in the government’s civil racketeering (RICO) lawsuit against the tobacco companies – that requires R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies to publish corrective statements about the health risks of smoking and other topics. The case resulted in a landmark judgment that tobacco companies have engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American people. The tobacco company defendants are continuing to challenge the wording of the corrective statements, requiring the DOJ to defend them.

    Francisco also represented R.J. Reynolds in two lawsuits challenging provisions of the 2009 law granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products. Among other things, these cases challenged the constitutionality of requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and advertising, a topic that continues to be the subject of litigation.

    “Given his prominent role in representing the tobacco industry in litigation, Mr. Francisco should not be permitted to participate in the government’s defense of laws he attacked in private practice or laws that his former client attacks in the future,” the letter states.

    Readler, the acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Division, regularly represented R.J. Reynolds when he was a partner at Jones Day. During that time, R.J. Reynolds submitted comments to the FDA opposing, on First Amendment and other grounds, parts of the recent rule that established FDA oversight of electronic cigarettes, cigars and other previously unregulated tobacco products. Tobacco companies have filed several challenges to this rule, including one case – Cyclops Vapor 2, LLC v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin. – that argues part of the rule violates the First Amendment.

    Despite the fact that his previous client, R.J. Reynolds, has made the same arguments, Readler has been listed as counsel representing the government in this case. Before Readler joined the DOJ, the department vigorously defended the FDA rule. With Readler now on the case, the government filed a motion requesting an extension “to more fully consider the issues raised.”

    Readler’s participation in this case or related litigation “is not appropriate and, if continued, would give the appearance of a conflict of interest and risk the reputation of the DOJ for strict adherence to well recognized ethical standards,” the letter argues.

    ​The health groups also call for the recusal policy to apply throughout the government.

    “We believe that existing ethical standards would be compromised if any former partner of Jones Day, which has worked tirelessly on behalf of the tobacco industry, participates in the DOJ’s defense of tobacco regulations or other actions by FDA affecting the industry. This recusal policy should apply not only to lawyers in DOJ, but also to lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office and attorneys who work at federal agencies.  It also should apply to lawyers from other law firms that have participated in litigation on behalf of tobacco-industry clients,” the letter states.​

  • ACS CAN reacts to withdrawal of health care bill

    On March 24, the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew the proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act within minutes of debate concluding.

    Earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan had told President Trump that the American Health Care Act did not have the votes to pass.​ 

    ACS CAN had publicly opposed the draft legislation because, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would have significantly reduced the number of individuals covered across the country, and increased the cost to be paid by patients while compromising quality of coverage for those who remained insured. 

    "ACS CAN communicated with the members of Congress again Friday morning that last-minute changes meant to appeal to the conservatives, including removing the essential health benefits package requirement, were particularly problematic for the cancer community," said Chris Hansen, ACS CAN president.

    He said "ACS CAN staff and volunteers executed a deliberate campaign to educate lawmakers on the adverse impact the legislation would have had on those with a history of cancer. A good number of the key lawmakers ACS CAN engaged had publicly announced their opposition before the vote was canceled. When all was said and done, one key poll showed only 17 percent of the public supported the House GOP proposal."

    Chris added: "While this particular proposal has been stopped, the administration may seek to make changes within its executive authority to change the law, and Congress may wish to bring up this issue again in a different way. ACS CAN will continue to monitor next steps and remains committed to working with and advising lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to try and achieve needed changes to the law to improve affordability and network adequacy.​"

    You can read the letter ACS CAN sent to lawmakers on March 24​



  • Congressional Budget Office projects 14 million Americans will lose health coverage in 2018 under House-proposed health care law

    On March 13, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an estimate of the impact of the American Health Care Act on the number of insured individuals, compared to those covered under current law, as well as the potential cost implications for those individuals who remain covered.

    The nonpartisan CBO projects that under the House-proposed legislation, the number of uninsured will increase by 14 million in 2018, 21 million by 2020, and then 24 million by 2026, relative to current law.  In the end, CBO estimates that by the year 2026, an estimated 52 million Americans will be uninsured if the House bill passes, compared to 28 million Americans who are estimated to be uninsured under current law Those purchasing coverage in the individual market can expect average premiums to be 15 to 20 percent higher relative to current law in 2018 and 2019.

    A statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Chris Hansen follows:

    "The CBO analysis confirms earlier projections that the legislation under consideration by the House to repeal portions of the health care law will dramatically reduce the number of individuals who have health insurance in this country.

    "We are deeply concerned that cancer patients, survivors and those at risk of cancer who long faced barriers to adequate, affordable coverage may again find themselves unable to access coverage necessary to prevent and treat a disease that is expected to kill more than 600,000 people in America this year.

    "While we acknowledge current law should be improved, the current House proposal takes us in the opposite direction -- threatening to eliminate the safety net coverage Medicaid provides for hard-working individuals who face an unexpected illness and reducing financial assistance for low- and middle-income families who may otherwise be unable to afford coverage. Proposed changes to coverage requirements could also result in increased cost-sharing and deductibles for many compared with current law.

    "ACS CAN stands ready to work with lawmakers to find a solution that maintains patient protections and ensures meaningful, adequate coverage is available to prevent and treat cancer."  

  • Patients, doctors, leading patient advocacy groups express concerns about proposed legislation that would eliminate health care for millions

    Patients, doctors and several of the nation's leading organizations that advocate for better health care for chronic disease patients joined today to express significant concerns about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is currently being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    At today's event at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., patients managing diabetes, congenital heart disease, and in active treatment for cancer shared their personal stories and the negative impact the current legislation would have on them and millions of Americans like them. Leaders from the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association urged Congress to slow down and reconsider proposed changes to the health care law so that people would not lose access to vital health care.

    According to a March 13 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, 24 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage under the proposed legislation over the next decade. In just the next year alone, the CBO estimates 14 million people would be left without access to coverage and care.

    "As Congress prepares to vote on legislation with life altering consequences for patients, we urge the House and Senate to keep in mind that the numbers in the CBO analysis involve children, the elderly, the disabled, those battling mental health issues, addiction, chronic disease, cancer, as well as low- and moderate- income families," said AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD. "We have repeatedly heard statements pledging to 'not pull the rug out from under people.' The analysis by CBO and other organizations indicates otherwise in stark terms and on multiple levels. As physicians from across the country and on the front lines, we urge the House and Senate to go back to the drawing board to develop alternative policies to provide coverage, choice and affordable health care."

    As part of the event, several patients discussed their concerns about the proposed legislation with a focus on the prospect of losing coverage that is available through the current law. Among them were Laurie Merges, a stage IIIb breast cancer patient who was able to access health insurance after Governor Kasich expanded Medicaid eligibility in Ohio to those at our below 138% of the federal poverty level. Laurie discussed her fear that if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed without an immediate replacement, she will lose coverage before she is finished with treatment and not be able to pay for care out of pocket.

    "Medicaid expansion has provided safety net coverage for hard-working individuals so they can access proven early detection and prevention measures, as well as treatment for unexpected illnesses like cancer," said Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN. "Shifting the funding burden to states that are already facing strained budgets could result in our country's most vulnerable being left without an affordable health insurance option. Evidence shows that lack of health insurance has a direct impact on our ability to save lives from cancer." 

    "On behalf of the nearly 116 million Americans who are living with or at risk for diabetes, we stand with our patient advocacy partners today to urge Congress to protect access to adequate, affordable health care for all Americans," said American Diabetes Association Chief Executive Officer Kevin L. Hagan. "As it currently reads, the AHCA will not provide sufficient coverage for people battling chronic illnesses such as diabetes. In addition to the millions of people who will be left uninsured, as noted in the CBO report, the proposed legislation cuts funding for innovative diabetes prevention programs, weakens the existing tax credit structure that supports affordable care and limits access to Medicaid coverage. This legislation may lower premiums for people in good health, however, it will increase costs and have a significantly negative impact on people living with diabetes."

    Another patient, Jose Sanchez, discussed his life as a budding entrepreneur with type 1 diabetes and how the ACA has made him less apprehensive about the loss of employer-provided insurance. When his income surpassed the Medicaid ceiling by a small margin, Jose found himself having to pay for his diabetes supplies out of pocket, incurring monthly costs of up to $1,100 and resorting to rationing his insulin in order to afford necessities for his two children. Access to coverage allows him to manage his diabetes without losing the ability to take care of his family and build his small business.

    "Under the Republicans' ACA repeal plan, too many Americans struggling with the burden of heart disease and stroke will now have another worry to deal with – can they continue to obtain and afford the quality health care they deserve?" said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. "Over the next two decades nearly half of the U.S. population will be dealing with preexisting cardiovascular conditions and our health insurance system must be fine-tuned constantly to ensure affordable, accessible coverage for both those who desperately need it today and in the future.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this bill does not accomplish this goal."

    American Heart Association advocate Cassidy Collins discussed how she was born with a congenital heart defect and mentioned her need for continuous specialized care. Collins has undergone dozens of procedures throughout her young life and said, given the unpredictable nature of her condition, it is critical she always have access to reliable networks.She is worried that proposed changes to the ACA will make health care coverage for ongoing treatment of her condition unaffordable and could render her "uninsurable" again. Collins called on Congress and the administration to remember those like her who are coping every day with life-threatening conditions, as they craft future health care legislation.

    The groups all commit to work with lawmakers to ensure changes to the law improve affordability and quality of coverage, rather than adversely impact the ability of patients to access recommended care at a price they can afford.

    Watch the archived webcast of the press conference.

    ​To learn more about ACS CAN's efforts to ensure people affected by cancer maintain access to uninterrupted health coverage, visit the Access to Health Coverage page on Society Source.

  • Proposed NIH budget cuts would set back cancer research nearly two decades and slow American medical innovation

    The president introduced a proposed FY 2018 budget today that includes deep cuts to medical research. If approved by Congress, the cuts would represent 19 percent of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) total budget and would likely result in a $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

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

    "The proposed reduction in NIH funding of $5.8 billion would represent a significant setback for millions of American cancer patients, survivors and their families. It would also dramatically constrain the prospect for breakthrough American medical innovation—an essential American economic driver.

    "If enacted, the budget proposal would likely result in a nearly $1 billion decrease for cancer research at NCI—making it the largest funding reduction in its history. The cuts would set research funding back to the level it was in 2000, when accounting for inflation.

    "We are at the cusp of tremendous breakthroughs in cancer research, making it exactly the wrong moment to turn back the clock on progress against a disease that continues to kill more than 1,650 people a day in this country.

    "Less than six months ago Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill represented lawmakers' overwhelming bipartisan commitment to the promise and necessity of medical research to our country's future. Now is the time for Congress to capitalize on that investment rather than reverse course by drastically curtailing NIH research funding.

     "For the last 50 years every major medical breakthrough can be traced back to investments in the NIH. Because of these investments, there are more than 15.5 million American cancer survivors alive today and researchers stand on the cusp of numerous innovative new diagnostic tools and treatments. From new immunotherapies that harness the body's own immune system to destroy cancer cells to less toxic and more precise chemotherapies and advanced diagnostic and preventive tools.

    "These developments save lives and spur economic progress. NIH-funded medical research is conducted in thousands of labs and universities across the country. These grants in turn spawn increased private investment and development. Drastically reducing NIH's budget would jeopardize our nation's potential to save more lives while simultaneously risking America's position as the global leader in medical research.

    "This year, 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 600,000 will die from the disease. On behalf of all those affected by cancer, we urge Congress to reject these steep budget cuts and, instead, continue their critical investment in life-saving, innovative research and cancer prevention."

  • Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative: TODAY is the deadline for fall grants

    ​In partnership with the CVS Health Foundation, the American Cancer Society is now accepting online applications for the next round of Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative grants. ​

    The fall grant cycle will run through February 28, 2017, with the names of grant recipients announced in May 2017. ​Learn more here.
    The deadline for applications is Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, 5 p.m. ET.
    Of the roughly 20 million college and university students in the U.S., more than one million are projected to die prematurely from cigarette smoking. While approximately 90% of smokers start by age 18, fully 99 % start by age 26, underscoring the importance of supporting those in the young adult age group with more effective prevention and cessation efforts while eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke and all tobacco use in their learning environments.
    To address this issue, the Society last fall launched a bold new initiative – the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI) – which will provide grants to accelerate and expand the adoption and implementation of 100% smoke- and tobacco-free policies on college and university campuses across the nation. Over the next three years, the $3.6 million multi-year program will award grants to 125 colleges and universities.
    This initiative, under the direction of our Center for Tobacco Control, is being supported by the CVS Health Foundation. It kicked off last falll with the awarding of grants to 20 colleges and universities.  

  • Normani Kordei of pop group Fifth Harmony becomes an ACS global ambassador

    Normani Kordei, of the internationally acclaimed pop group Fifth Harmony, is partnering with the American Cancer Society as a global ambassador to help increase awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening and HPV vaccination. The fight against cancer hits close to home as Kordei's mother, Andrea, is a breast cancer survivor, having been diagnosed when Normani was just five years old. ​

    "I remember seeing my father shaving my mother's head in the bathroom after her chemo treatments; it was so traumatizing," Kordei says.

    This heartbreaking memory of her mother was the catalyst for aligning with the Society.

    "My mom is my hero, and I wouldn't be the woman I am today without her," says Kordei. "I am so committed to this fight. I love the work the American Cancer Society does and being a global ambassador provides me an amazing platform to share my experience and story while growing up, support my grandfather who is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, and honor the legacy of my Uncle Norman, for whom I am named and never met, having passed from lung cancer at the age of 33."

    "We are honored to have such a strong voice in Normani to help us save more lives from cancer," says Sharon Byers, our chief development and marketing officer. "In November, Normani visited a hospital with us and watching her interact with patients young and old was special. She has the ability to put smiles on the patients who need that happiness most."

    "Being only 20, it was especially tough to watch kids who were struggling," Kordei says. "But it was truly memorable and inspiring to see their parents provide support. It was really emotional yet rewarding when a few of the parents came up to me with tears in their eyes saying that it has been a long time since they saw their kids smile."

    As a young woman who has taken a step toward the prevention of cervical and other cancers through HPV vaccination, "she is the perfect ambassador to share the message to make HPV vaccination a national and global public health priority," said Sharon.

    "We have a cancer prevention vaccine that has been available for 10 years. They're safe and they work, yet in this country only about half of girls and boys who are vaccinated with the other vaccines recommended for preteens are getting vaccinated to protect them from HPV.

    Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s so common that nearly all sexually active people will have it at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts and cancer. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The virus also has been linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat.