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Advocacy Update – June 2014

AdvocacyUpdate

Advocates, The past month has shown that your efforts make a difference.  We are making progress in colorectal cancer advocacy! In addition to Sen. Brown (D-OH) introducing the Senate component of H.R. 1070 (S. 2348), May was named National Cancer Research Month by a unanimous Senate resolution and appropriations were released. At home, we’ve had advocates visiting, calling and emailing their elected officials to remind them that we need their support! Read this month’s update to find out all of the details.

ADVOCATE SPOTLIGHT: MARCI KING MARSHmarci-king-marsh-advocate

We first met Marci at Call-on Congress 2014, where her thirst for knowledge was apparent. She asked detailed questions, befriended many fellow advocates, and made an impact during her Hill visits. Now that she’s back home in Montana, she’s kept the fire alive! This month, Marci attended a Montana Cancer Control Coalition meeting. Marci posted her experience to the Advocates Facebook group:

“They started talking about the issue of an individual having a colonoscopy as a preventative (screening) procedure but it becomes diagnostic if any polyps are removed I spoke up and said that I had attended Call-on Congress in March with Fight Colorectal Cancer and that H.R. 1070 was one of the issues we presented to our state representatives. I think it kind of blew them away. I just had to share that the work does continue once we get back our states.”

Thank you, Marci, for being a great advocate! Join the Advocates Facebook group to engage other advocates and keep up with what we’re doing in advocacy.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN INTRODUCES S. 2348senator-brown

Senator Brown (D-OH) introduced, S. 2348, the much anticipated Senate companion bill to H.R. 1070 “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” on May 14, 2014. The House bill was introduced by Reps. Dent (R-PA) and Payne (D-NJ) on March 12, 2013. Ohio Fight Colorectal Cancer Advocate, Ed Murphy, spoke at the press conference held by Senator Brown at the Cleveland Clinic on May 12, 2014.  Ed didn’t only lose his wife to colorectal cancer on January 29, 2011, but he is also at high risk for developing colorectal cancer. Read the press release here. Following his introduction of the bill, Senator Brown wrote a Dear Colleague to the Senate asking for co-sponsors to S. 2348.  Fight Colorectal Cancer sent out an action alert to all advocates asking them to reach out to their Senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 2348. ACTION:  We need your help! Use this action alert for instructions on asking for your senators’ support: click here. The House bill, H.R. 1070, currently has 69 co-sponsors.  Our goal is to increase co-sponsors of H.R. 1070 to at least 100 house members by the end of the summer. Ask your elected official to cosponsor H.R. 1070 by calling, emailing or visiting his/her home office! Find the tools you need in our Advocacy Center.

REP. DONALD PAYNE INITIATES LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA ABOUT MEDICARE FIX

congressman-donald-payne-jr On May 30, colorectal cancer champion Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) initiated a letter to President Obama signed by several House and Senate members asking for a critical fix to Medicare law that could potentially save lives and prevent colorectal cancer. The bicameral letter signed by several members of key congressional committees requested that the White House step in and remove the cost-sharing component to colonoscopy screening impacting Medicare patients – the issue addressed in H.R. 1070 and S. 2348.  Read the full story here.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE

On May 9, 2014 the House Appropriations Committee voted on allocations for the various subcommittees, effectively telling each of its subcommittees how much money they can spend for FY 2015.The allocations in the House Labor/HHS Appropriations bill are about $1 billion below last year’s numbers. However, it is thought that strong support for National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI) exists and that the NIH/NCI funding will remain the same as 2014. (NIH/NCI is funded by the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill.) The House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee consideration of the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill will likely follow the Senate in late June/July.  However, there is not much optimism for a separate vote on this bill on the House floor this year.  Instead it will likely be part of an overall spending bill called a Continuing Resolution sometime later in the year. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2015 subcommittee allocations on May 22, 2014. The Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee will receive an allocation of $156.8 billion, which is the same as the current 2014 spending level.  As in the House, the Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee will likely fund NIH/NCI at the current 2014 level. It is projected that the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill will be marked up in subcommittee on June 10 and in full committee on June 12.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Mikulski has stated that she would like to have all Appropriations bills completed by the full Senate by the August recess.  However, like in the House, the Labor-HHS is one of the most contentious appropriations bills and usually ends up in a Continuing Resolution and not considered on the Senate floor as a free standing bill.

HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE –21ST CENTURY CURES INITIATIVE

The House Energy Committee held a hearing on 21st Century Cures Initiative announced by the Energy and Commerce Committee on April 30, 2014. This Cures effort is envisioned to explore ways to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery cycle for new medical breakthroughs. Through this effort, Congress hopes to clear a path to find more cures and treatments while also creating jobs and keeping America as the innovation center of the world. The Committee launched this bipartisan initiative in May with one primary goal: accelerate the pace of the discovery, development and delivery cycle so we can get innovative new cures and treatments to patients more quickly. On May 16, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a white paper on the 21st Century Cures initiative, reviewing the gap between the number of diseases and the number of treatments. ACTION:  The committee is seeking input from patients and advocates regarding what cures and treatments are available for individual diseases, how they work with researchers and other patients, their experience with clinical trials, and what role government has played. All comments can be sent to cures@mail.house.gov by June 13, 2014. Read the complete white paper here. The 21st Century Cures Initiative has not yet addressed additional funding for Government Research for cancer and other diseases.  More hearings are planned.

NATIONAL CANCER RESEARCH MONTH – MAY 2014

On May 21, the Senate passed S. Res 445 by unanimous consent making May 2014 National Cancer Research Month. Senators Feinstein and Isakson, who are the co-chairs of the Senate Cancer Caucus, introduced the Resolution. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is circulating a letter to Congressional leadership, on the occasion of National Cancer Research Month, which calls on Congress to make funding for the NIH a national priority and specifically requests $32 billion for the NIH and $5.26 billion for the NCI in fiscal year 2015. Fight Colorectal Cancer has signed on to the letter.

CANCER LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEETING

Fight Colorectal Cancer is an active member of the Cancer Leadership Council (CLC). The CLC met on May 13 facilitated by Elizabeth Goss.  Guest speaker Dr. Lowell Schnipper discussed the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) initiative on Cancer Care Value.  This initiative focuses on the value of cancer treatments and in clinical trials and the study will look at advanced stage cancer and survival rates but likely benefit all cancer patients. Financial considerations can involve balancing the costs of treatment with the projected outcome.  In addition, the cost of treatments for patients who cannot afford them may result in many patients facing bankruptcy for treatments that may not be covered by insurance or have high co-pays.  This is something the cancer community must seek answers for, especially as treatments and drug costs, and the cost of care continues to increase. In addition, non- financial costs will be studied. Toxicity of drugs and the support services needed for patient care are examples of non-financial costs. What are the benefits of treatments with high toxicity? How does this impact the patient’s quality of life compared to the increase in survival?  Are lower cost drugs just as effective as high cost drugs? These are some of the questions that should be explored by the study. The initiative is a work in progress that patient and patient /advocacy groups have not yet been invited to discuss. However, they will be invited to join the discussion at a later time, likely in late summer or early fall.

JULY 16TH COLORECTAL CANCER STAKEHOLDERS MEETING

Fight Colorectal Cancer, in partnership with ACS CAN, is planning a colorectal cancer stakeholders meeting and lobby day with Rep. Payne on July 16 on Capitol Hill.  The purpose of the meeting is to promote legislation introduced in both the House and Senate, “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,” H.R. 1070 and S. 2348.  In addition, the meeting will provide a forum for organizations and leaders to discuss how to move the “80% by 2018” goal forward as a coalition. Congressional members and staff, along with colorectal cancer nonprofits, agencies, and medical associations, are invited.  A breakfast meeting will kick off the day and after the meeting, invitees and advocates will lobby members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation H.R. 1070 and S. 2348. Be an advocate this month & get involved! Learn more at FightColorectalCancer.org/Advocacy.

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