Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP)
The CRCCP currently provides funding through 2014 to 25 states and four tribal organizations for implementation of colorectal cancer education, awareness and screening programs. The CRCCP was funded at $43 million in FY 2011 and FY 2012.
Over the past few years, Fight Colorectal Cancer has advocated for increasing the CRCCP’s budget to $70 million. It is estimated, that $70 million would allow the CDC to expand the CRCCP nationally.
Fight Colorectal Cancer has also fought against consolidating the CRCCP with the other CDC cancer control programs. The President’s FY 2012 and 2013 budgets called for consolidation, but the proposal has not received much support to date from Congress.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will advocate for increased funding for the CRCCP to $70 million in FY 2014 and continue to oppose consolidation of the cancer control programs.
Funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP)
The PRCRP falls under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRPs), which funds research for colorectal cancer, among other cancers. A hallmark of the CDMRPs is their focus on innovative, multidisciplinary research. PRCRP funding specifically supports research on designated cancers with relevance to military service members and their families.
In the 112th Congress, Fight Colorectal Cancer requested $16 million for the PRCRP in FY 2013. The program is currently funded at $12.8 million. Increasing PRCRP funding by $3.2 million would restore program funding to FY 2011 levels. In 2012, the House approved its FY 2013 DoD spending bill, which includes $15 million for the PRCRP. However, final action on a FY 2013 DoD spending bill is still pending.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will advocate to increase funding for the PRCRP to $16 million in FY 2014.
Funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
The NCI funds critical colorectal cancer research, including through the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, which enables rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings.
In the 112th Congress, Fight Colorectal Cancer requested that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) be funded at $32.7 billion in FY 2013, which would provide the NCI with $5.36 billion. In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which would boost funding to the NIH by $100 million, for a total of $30.7 billion. Of that amount, $5.084 billion is allocated to the NCI, which constitutes a $15 million increase. The House Labor-HHS-Education would flat fund the NIH at $30.6 million. The result is a $2 million cut to the NCI. Final action on a FY 2013 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill is still pending.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will advocate for increased funding for the NIH to $32.623 billion and NCI to $5.349 billion in FY 2014.
Federal Funding Sequestration
In August 2011, Senate Democrats and House Republicans brokered a compromise to trim $2 trillion from the budget deficit. Under the deal, $1 trillion in spending cuts will occur across defense and non-defense spending programs and will be phased in over 10 years. An additional $1.2 trillion in cuts will occur over the next 10 years through a process of automatic across-the-board spending cuts, or sequestration, of both defense and non-defense programs.
Sequestration is required because the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which was established by the law, failed to reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan. Sequestration was to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013.
The Passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act in January 2013 delayed sequestration until March 1, 2013, and the overall amount of cuts was reduced by $24 billion, equally divided between defense and non-defense programs.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that if sequestration takes effect on March 1, 2013, non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs would be cut more than $26 billion, which would result in an across-the-board cut of 5.1 percent. As a result fewer NIH grants would be funded and CDC programs would be cut.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will advocate against sequestration for non-defense discretionary programs, medical research and prevention programs in particular, as well as for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.
Eliminate Cost Sharing for Colorectal Cancer Screening Colonoscopy
Under current law, Medicare beneficiaries must pay a coinsurance when their colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy also involves the removal of polyps or other tissue. This policy is confusing to Medicare beneficiaries and serves as a financial deterrent to this highly effective method of colorectal cancer prevention.
In February 2013, the federal government issued an important clarification on preventive screening benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Patients with private insurance will no longer be liable for cost sharing when a pre-cancerous colon polyp is removed during screening colonoscopy. This ensures colorectal cancer screening is available to privately insured patients at no additional cost, as intended by the new healthcare law. Unfortunately, patients with Medicare coverage must still pay a coinsurance when a polyp is removed as a result of the screening colonoscopy.
In the 112th Congress, Fight Colorectal Cancer was instrumental in the introduction of legislation in the House (H.R. 4120) that would correct Medicare law, and has lobbied the Department of HHS for a change in regulation.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will seek reintroduction of corrective legislation for Medicare and advocate for its passage in the 113th Congress.
Many cancer patients have to pay significantly more out of pocket for oral anticancer treatments (e.g., pills) than they do for intravenous treatments. Legislation was introduced in the 112th Congress that requires insurers that cover anticancer medications that are intravenously administered or injected to provide no less favorable coverage for oral anticancer medications. The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act was only introduced in the House.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will work with stakeholder allies to achieve reintroduction and advocate passage of the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act in the 113th Congress.
Fight Colorectal Cancer Stamp Act
Because funding for medical research through the NIH has remained essentially flat, in 2010 Fight Colorectal Cancer championed the introduction of the Colorectal Cancer Stamp Act (H.R. 893). This legislation would authorize the U.S. Postal Service to sell a semipostal, or fundraising, stamp. A colorectal cancer semipostal stamp will provide needed supplemental funding for federal colorectal cancer research and prevention programs without increasing federal government spending. Revenues raised from stamp sales would be distributed to the DoD, CDC, and NIH.
Action for 2013: Support reintroduction and advocate for passage of the Colorectal Cancer Stamp Act in the House, with the priority of also identifying a senator(s) willing to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment Act
Fight Colorectal Cancer has been the impetus behind introduction of the Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment Act. This legislation would essentially expand and improve upon the CRCCP. The bill is authorizing legislation, which means that even if the legislation is enacted into law, funding to implement the law would still need to be appropriated. In the 112th Congress, the bill had the support of 30 cosponsors in the House and four in the Senate.
Action for 2013: Fight Colorectal Cancer will support the reintroduction of the bill in the 113th Congress.
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Proclamation
President George W. Bush was the last president to issue a proclamation declaring March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Prior to then, President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation in 2000 following the passage of a resolution in the Senate requesting that he designate March 2000 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and to issue a proclamation.
Action for 2013: Pursue passage of a resolution in the House and Senate that would call upon President Barack Obama to issue a proclamation declaring March 2013 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. [March 2013 update: Senate resolution passed in February 2013. Fight Colorectal Cancer is now actively pursuing passage of H. Res. 69.]