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Advocacy Update – May 2014

AdvocacyUpdate

Advocates,

It’s hard to believe that we’re already five months into 2014! As we gear up for summer, things in advocacy are heating up.  In this update, you’ll find out what Fight CRC has been up to on the Hill and what your fellow advocates have been doing at home. For real time updates, be sure to join the advocates at Fight CRC Facebook group!

Meet the New Grassroots Action Committee (GAC)

grassroots-action-committee-fight-crc

This month, we said “see you later!” to a few of our GAC members who reached the end of their terms (read the blog post here). Although we hate to see them retire, we are so excited to have new faces join us on the committee.  Help us welcome the new committee, comprised of both veteran and rookie members!

The 2014-2016 GAC members are:

  • Belle Piazza (chair)
  • Eric & Rose Hausmann
  • Patti Hollenback
  • Pam Seijo
  • Chris Heffelbower
  • Kristin Keesen
  • Chad & Sheila Schrack
  • Bunny Terry
  • Maria Williams

 

What’s New With H.R. 1070

Since its introduction by Rep. Dent (R-PA) in 2013, H.R. 1070 “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” has remained at the top of our legislative priority list! Since March, we’ve gained nearly 15 new H.R. 1070 supporters. There are currently 64 House co-sponsors, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) plans to introduce the companion bill in the Senate soon. In addition, Rep. Dent and Rep. Payne plan to write a letter to the Administration urging them to implement policy that would eliminate the Medicare co-pays for polyp removal.  If you would like to track the new H.R. 1070 co-sponsors, go to www.gov.track.us and type in the bill number H.R. 1070.

 

Alliance for Health Reform Senate Lunch Focuses on Co-Pay Issue: April 17, 2014

aarp-luncheon-colon-cancer

Colorectal cancer prevention and screening was discussed extensively at the Senate lunch briefing at the Alliance for Health Reform sponsored by AARP on April 17, 2014. Lynda Flowers, from the AARP Public Policy Institute, discussed her publication on “Colonoscopy Screening after the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Cost Barriers persist for Medicare Beneficiaries.”  This publication covers the “costs” of colorectal cancer in the US and the impact of the ACA.  The distinction between ACA covering co-pays for screening colonoscopies with polyp removal and the lack of co-pay coverage under Medicare was also discussed.  She stated AARP’s strong endorsement of H.R. 1070 which would eliminate the co-pays for polyp removal under Medicare.  You can read AARP’s report here.

This cost sharing issue is rapidly gaining national attention. Kevin Lucia, a senior fellow at Georgetown University, discussed copays for colorectal screening under private insurance.  He told attendees that the number one issue for state insurance regulators is the issue of cost sharing for colonoscopies and colorectal cancer screening. From his research of private insurers, variations exist on whether insured consumers receive colorectal cancer screening with some cost/no cost sharing among states. As a result, state regulators are looking for federal government guidance.  He concluded that the federal government should issue further guidance to improve clarity and make coverage more consistent on cost sharing in the private insurance market.  Read Margaret’s full review of the luncheon here.

 

The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Policy Task Force Meeting: April 24, 2014

The need for federal guidance was also a major theme of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable  (NCCRT) Policy Task Force meeting on April 24, 2014. Although the ACA policy coverage of co-pays for screening colonoscopies is clear, it is not being implemented consistently across the U.S.  With the increased numbers of individuals being screened, and the campaign to increase screenings to 80% by 2018, this issue will only get worse. A more specific policy task force is being formed to study the problem and recommend strategies for obtaining federal action from Health and Human Services (HHS).

 

Update on Appropriations for Cancer Research and Screening

Thanks to Fight Colorectal Cancer advocate visits during Call-on Congress on March 18, many congressional offices communicated support to the Appropriation Committees in both the House and Senate for increase funding for NIH/NCI, CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP), and the DOD Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP). The deadline in both the House and Senate for congressional members to provide “wish” lists for funding items to the Appropriation Committees was April 4, 2014.

Several “Dear Colleagues” were circulated and sent to Appropriations on these key Fight Colorectal Cancer issues.  In addition, Fight Colorectal Cancer signed on to cancer coalition letters sent to the Appropriation Committees in support of these funding items.

The Senate and House Appropriation subcommittees will begin to schedule hearings in the next few months. Fight Colorectal Cancer will monitor these hearings and seek additional opportunities to promote our funding requests with these committees. Thank you for putting the pressure on your elected officials!

Review these and other important letters here.

Call-on Congress Follow-Up: Don’t Lose Your Momentum!

hill-meeting-colon-cancer

In the six weeks since Call-on Congress, our advocates have been diligently following up on their congressional “asks.”  An advocate from Texas received a personal letter of support and encouragement from a congressional staffer:

Thanks for sharing your story with me, you are [an] incredibly brave woman…You should know that [the] Congressman did ask for an increase in NIH’s budget and we are reviewing the bills you mentioned.

Another advocate sent a Fight CRC t-shirt and I <3 Booty bracelet to her Congressman’s office as part of her follow-up!

Keep up the good work and remember to meet with the staff that works in your district! If you need help scheduling or preparing for a local meeting, contact Emily White.

 

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