Legislative Goals

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Advocacy makes a difference. All year our advocates ask their members of Congress to support our legislative goals, which consist of increases in appropriations funding for colorectal cancer research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP), and correcting an oversight in Medicare policy that causes unexpected copays for screening colonoscopies.

Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) works year-round with our congressional advisory committee members, sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and coalition members who share our advocacy priorities to develop our legislative goals.

The Fight CRC advocacy team reviews and monitors all federal legislative initiatives that impact colorectal cancer. We determine if issues should be supported, and if so, at what level; through a letter of support, public comment, or if we need to engage our advocates through action alerts.


ACTIVE LEGISLATION

Our legislative priorities are issues directly related to colorectal cancer, have a major impact on research funding (appropriations), and/or impact access to screening, or treatment. Active legislation is defined as issues which Fight CRC actively seek support and that have corresponding bill numbers.

Eliminating Cost-Sharing for Colorectal Cancer Screening (HR 1220/ S 624)

A screening colonoscopy is 100% covered by Medicare. However, if polyps are removed during a colonoscopy, in a routine procedure known as a polypectomy, seniors may face unexpected bills that cost them hundreds of dollars per polyp removed. This can be a huge disincentive for seniors to receive a screening procedure that is supposed to be cost-free to them.

So, what are we doing about this?

At Fight Colorectal Cancer, we know that screening is the key to prevention and we must remove these barriers. That’s why we’re working with Congress to pass legislation that will prevent Medicare beneficiaries from being responsible for colonoscopy co-pays. Currently, there are bills in both the House of Representatives (H.R. 1220) and the Senate (S. 624) aimed at fixing this oversight.

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act was first introduced in the 112th Congress in 2013 and received minimal support with only 48 co-sponsors. In the 113th Congress, we tripled the number of cosponsors as result of our advocacy, resulting in 158 co-sponsors. We hope to gain even more support in the 114th Congress with the help of our congressional advisory committee and other champions on the Hill.

Additionally, we are encouraging Congress to add language to fix this issue within the 21st Century Cures initiative. This initiative aims to incorporate patient perspectives into the regulatory process and help address their unmet medical needs, build the foundation for 21st century medicine, streamline clinical trials, support continued innovation at our federal public health agencies and modernize medical product regulation. We believe that prevention should be a part of any initiative that seeks to improve disease cures.

Read more about this here.


josh-colon-cancer-survivor-advocateISSUES WE SUPPORT

Although these issues have an impact on colorectal cancer research, screening, and/or treatment, they do not have corresponding pieces of legislation. These issues are a part of the annual federal appropriations process and Fight Colorectal Cancer, along with other stakeholders, provide our recommendations and support each year.

Increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP)

Fight CRC believes that it is imperative that everyone has access to information about colorectal cancer and access to screenings. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance companies to cover colorectal cancer screenings at 100% for insured Americans 50 years of age and older, some communities do not have access to screenings and are not aware of colorectal cancer risks, symptoms, and screening guidelines.

The CDC’s CRCCP educates, screens, and raises awareness in communities across the United States. Currently, these programs exist in 25 states and four tribal nations. Its important that the CDC program exists to educate, improve local public health efforts, and in some cases navigate patients. With increased funding, this program could expand to other states and continue to help us prevent future cases of colorectal cancer.

So, what are we doing about this?

For fiscal year 2015, the CRCCP is funded at $43 million and currently supports programs in 25 states and four tribal organizations. For fiscal year 2016, we are asking appropriators to increase funding to $70 million for colorectal cancer prevention programs and continue to oppose consolidation of the cancer control programs. A funding level of $70 million would allow for all 50 states to have a CDC CRCCP.

Read more about this here.

Funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP)

Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among active duty military personnel. The Office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) was created in 1992 from a powerful grassroots effort led by the breast cancer advocacy community that resulted in a congressional appropriation of funds for breast cancer research.

This initiated a unique partnership among the public, Congress, and the military. Since then, the CDMRP has grown from studying just breast cancer to encompass multiple targets and cancers. They have received nearly $7 billion in appropriations from its inception through fiscal year 2012. It is important to note that these funds for the CDMRP are added to the DoD budget and are allocated via specific guidance from Congress. To fund research for a specific cancer through this program, the cancer has to be listed as a part of the appropriations process.

Fight CRC’s first successful advocacy effort was having Congress add colorectal cancer to this program.

More about how we did it

Over the last 5 years we have worked to sustain the PRCRP during a time of drastic budget cuts – former Fight CRC president Carlea Bauman testified at a May 20, 2010 House appropriations hearing about the need for this funding. In 2014, colorectal cancer had inadvertently been dropped from the list cancers. With the support of our Congressional champions we made sure that was amended.

In addition, Fight CRC nominates and supports advocates who serve on the Integration Panel and Peer Review Committees of the research program, and helps get the word out to the scientific community about the application process.

So what are we doing about this?

Fight Colorectal Cancer asks Congress to at least maintain $50 million for the PRCRP in fiscal year 2016 and to include colorectal cancer as eligible for research funding. This program falls under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRPs).

Read more about this here.

Funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

It is vital that the Federal government support and fund cancer research from the NIH and the NCI (a division of the NIH) for improved screening and treatment options, and, potentially, a cure for colorectal cancer. Without funding, none of these things are achievable.

Unfortunately, sequestration resulted in a 5% cut to NIH funding in 2013. Although funding levels increased over the past two fiscal years, we have yet to reach a pre-sequestration funding level.

Read about how funding cuts affect real researchers.

Each year, we ask Congress for increased funding for these programs and continue to promote innovation.

So, what are we doing about this?

Fight Colorectal Cancer is requesting a $33 billion funding level for fiscal year 2016 for the NIH, including $5.75 billion for the NCI.

Read more about this here.


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ISSUES WE ARE MONITORING

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

Currently, these issues include: