Fight CRC works with our Congressional Advisory Committee (CAC) and advocacy partners to develop our legislative goals. We monitor all federal legislative initiatives that impact colorectal cancer. Once we monitor, we determine if issues should be supported, and if so, at what level. Sometimes support means we sign on or draft a letter of support. Sometimes we make a public comment. Other times we engage our advocates through an Action Alert or ask advocates to voice their opinions and get involved.

 Read a Summary of the Priorities 

 

Legislative priorities for 2017


Issue 1: Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings


Ask: Co-sponsor the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, HR 1017/S.479.

Medicare covers screening colonoscopies at 100%, but if polyps are removed during the screening procedure, beneficiaries become responsible for paying coinsurance of roughly 20%. This additional and unexpected cost is a major deterrent to screening seniors, the population at highest risk for CRC.

This issue is a top priority for Fight Colorectal Cancer, as it has been for the past three Congresses. Most recently, it received 328 combined co-sponsors in the 114th Congress (HR 1220/S 624).

Ask: Protect 100% insurance coverage for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement legislation.

The passage of the ACA required new health plans to cover recommended preventive services without cost sharing. One in three Americans is not up-to-date with CRC screenings, and one in 20 will be diagnosed with CRC during their lifetime. Maintaining coverage for CRC screening is a major opportunity to reduce the death toll of the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined. From 2011 (when the law took effect) until 2013, an additional 8,400 seniors (8% more than before) were diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer (as a result of screening), researchers estimated [1].

Ask: Appropriate $70 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) to provide states with the necessary funding to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in all 50 states.

Increasing funding would enable more states and underserved communities to offer screening programs, and as a result, increase nationwide screening rates. In 2015, 31 grants were awarded to implement evidence-based interventions to include education, screening and follow-up services. This program’s funding provides support to our country’s most vulnerable populations. The CRCCP has provided almost 55,000 colorectal cancer screening exams and diagnosed 165 colorectal cancers and 8,441 cases of precancerous polyps. Grants have been awarded to 24 state health departments, as well as 6 universities, and one American Indian tribe to increase colorectal screening.

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Issue 2: Investing in Colorectal Cancer Research


Ask: Appropriate funding for 21st Century Cures as part of the FY 2017 federal budget and increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to $34.5 billion, including $5.9 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for FY 2017.

The 21st Century Cures Act, when funded, will play a vital role in the development of new treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. This legislation gives hope to the cancer community. It provides $4.8 billion over 10 years for medical research, ensuring funds for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the Precision Medicine Initiative and substantial increases to current NIH funding levels.

We also request increases in funding to the NIH and NCI for both FY 2017 and FY 2018. While the funding for 21st Century Cures is significant, it should supplement increases in funding through the appropriations process for these institutions.

Ask: Fund the DoD PRCRP at $60 million for FY 2017. Ensure colorectal cancer research continues to be included as eligible for funding under this program.

In FY 2016 the Defense Appropriations Act provided $50 million to the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) to support innovative, high-impact cancer research. The PRCRP funds research for 11 different cancer types, including colorectal cancer. These grants are focused on militarily-relevant risk factors associated with cancer. The grants also apply to gaps in cancer prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and/or survivorship — issues that may affect the general population but have a particularly profound impact on the health and well-being of military service members, veterans and their beneficiaries. The PRCRP funds high-risk, high-reward science that is not funded by NIH.

From 2009 to 2015, the PRCRP funded over $14 million in colorectal cancer research.
Eligibility of colorectal cancer to receive research funding under the PRCRP is not guaranteed – Congress specifies which cancers are included. Each year Fight CRC works with legislative offices to ensure that members of Congress request to appropriators that colorectal cancer remain included.

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Issue 3: Protecting the Best Interests of Patients


Ask: Protect the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) ban on pre-existing condition limitations, elimination of annual and lifetime coverage caps, and maintain coverage of screening services and guaranteed renewability.

As our healthcare delivery system evolves, we are working to maintain seamless coverage for patients and families impacted by cancer. On behalf of patients and healthcare providers we call for reform that allows for flexibility, timely updates and adherence to the latest evidence-based clinical practices, affordability and transparency.

Pre-existing Conditions

Support the ban on disqualifying or limiting coverage for a consumer from a health insurance plan due to pre-existing medical conditions. The Trump administration has clearly stated their support for this provision. We urge Congress to follow through on that promise.

Annual and Lifetime Coverage Caps

Maintain the provision prohibiting health plans from putting annual or lifetime dollar limits on most benefits. The average cost of treating advanced colorectal cancer is more than $250,000 per patient [2]. Patients should not have to choose between providing for their families or undergoing treatments.

Prevention and Screening Services

Maintain the key provision of the ACA requiring that private insurance plans must cover recommended preventive services without any patient cost-sharing (co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance).

Guaranteed Renewability

Maintain the provision that health insurance issuers must offer to renew a policy as long as the consumer continues to pay premiums. This provision allows cancer patients to focus on fighting and surviving, not shopping for new insurance plans or facing interrupted coverage.

During a time of reform, we must protect and preserve affordability and access to care while maintaining the quality of healthcare services and meaningful access to, and coverage of, clinical trials.

 Download Issue Brief  

 

Issues We’re Monitoring

To make sure voices of colorectal cancer patients are being heard, we are an active member of several coalitions that address issues we actively monitor.

Currently, these issues include:


[1] Affordable Care Act Changes To Medicare Led To Increased Diagnoses Of Early-Stage Colorectal Cancer Among Seniors Health Aff January 2017 36:1101-107;

[2] Chastek B, et al.; “Impact of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Stage and Number of Treatment Courses on Patient Health Care Costs and Utilization.” Postgrad Med, 2013 Mar; 125(2):73-82.