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ACS CAN: Administration budget risks reversing progress against cancer

‚ÄčMedicare prescription drug proposals and e-cigarette user fee welcome changes

The administration released its FY20 budget today including a $4.7 billion cut for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a nearly $900 million cut for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The budget also reduces funding by $34.5 million for important cancer screening and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and transforms Medicaid funding into a block grant structure.

Also included is a $50 million increase to childhood cancer research funding, a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D, elimination of cost-sharing for generic drugs for some low-income Medicare beneficiaries, and a user fee to help fund the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory work around electronic cigarettes.

A statement from Lisa Lacasse (pictured here), president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN, follows:

Research

"If passed, the proposed cut to NIH and NCI funding would squander years of renewed momentum and progress in advancing discovery in cancer and other chronic diseases.

"These investments have long enjoyed strong bipartisan support and have led to incredible understanding in how to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer that still claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans each year.

"The additional $50 million dedicated to childhood cancer research, while welcome, will not be as effective as possible if overall research funding is significantly reduced. Childhood cancer research is intertwined with all of cancer research and cuts to NIH and NCI funding will consequently have deleterious effects on such research regardless of age.

Prevention

"We are deeply troubled by the proposed cuts and elimination of proven cancer prevention, screening, and early detection programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The proposed block granting of all chronic disease funding could essentially eliminate federal tobacco prevention and control programs. Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable premature death in the U.S.

"The inclusion of a new e-cigarette manufacturer user fee to help fund FDA regulation of the electronic cigarette industry is a welcome acknowledgement of the epidemic in youth e-cigarette use. However, FDA's urgent regulatory work to address this crisis should not be dependent on the assessment of this fee.

Access to Care

"Capping out-of-pocket prescription costs for seniors on Medicare Part D and allowing some low-income enrollees to be spared cost-sharing on generic drugs would be welcome changes and could help enrollees better afford their care.

"However, transforming Medicaid funding into a block grant would likely leave millions of Americans unable to access critical health services. Medicaid serves as an essential safety-net for more than 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer, including one-third of all pediatric cancer patients at the point of diagnosis.

"Budget realities require setting priorities. Federal funding for medical research and access to preventive and curative medical care is essential to ensuring our country can lead, innovate, and save the most lives from cancer as possible. On behalf of the more than 1.7 million Americans expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, we urge Congress to reject these cuts, raise the impending budget caps, and ensure cancer research and access to health care remains among our nation's the top priorities." 

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