What's Happening on Capitol Hill? May 2013 Update

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building

Dear Advocates,

Your efforts are making an impact. Every time you exercise your right as a US citizen to communicate with Congress, you are changing the landscape for colorectal cancer patients. We applaud you for your passion and advocacy.

Has Your Representative Cosponsored H.R. 1070? ACTION REQUESTED

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced on March 15 the “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,” (H.R. 1070).The bill would waive Medicare beneficiary coinsurance for colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy when a polyp is removed.  As of May 16, the bill had 28 cosponsors. To find out if your representative has cosponsored H.R. 1070 go to www.thomas.gov and search by bill number.  If your representative has not cosponsored H.R. 1070 please contact your representative’s office at 202-224-3121 and ask for their cosponsorship of H.R. 1070.

Still Looking for a Republican 

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has agreed to introduce the companion measure to H.R. 1070 in the Senate. Sen. Brown is expected to introduce his bill in the near future; however, introduction has been delayed with Sen. Brown’s preference to introduce the bill with a Republican.

Kudos to Rep. Charlie Dent

On March 29, the Lehigh Valley News published a letter written by Fight Colorectal Cancer president Carlea Bauman commending Rep. Dent for his leadership on the Medicare coinsurance issue. The letter was submitted in response to a letter published in the paper that criticized Rep. Dent for appearing in advertisements published in the Morning Call and Express Times encouraging Pennsylvanians to get screened for colorectal cancer.  The ads were paid for by the Courtney Anne Diacont Memorial Foundation.

President’s Budget Cuts CDC Colorectal Funds 

In April, President Obama released his FY 2014 budget which would cut nearly $4 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP). The CDC estimates that the loss of funding will mean at least five fewer state programs (out of the current 29) working to prevent colorectal cancer. The president’s budget assumes that less federal funding is needed for direct screenings, such as colorectal, breast, and cervical screenings, because most health plans are required to cover these screenings without co-pays or deductibles, and because, starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act ensures that no one can be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Fight Colorectal Cancer will be advocating preserving current CRCCP funding levels and will need your help. Stay tuned. (Read Fight Colorectal Cancer’s statement on this issue.)

Fight Colorectal Cancer Meets with CDC Officials

On May 8, 2013, Fight Colorectal Cancer was represented at a meeting with officials from the CDC to discuss how funding for the CRCCP and the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program can be protected in an era of health care reform.

House Lawmakers Support Funding for CRCCP – GREAT JOB ADVOCATES!

Thanks to all the Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates who asked their representatives to sign a letter in support of the CRCCP. The letter was circulated by Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. and called upon appropriators to fully fund the CRCCP in FY 2014. Rep. Payne was joined by 53 of his House colleagues on the letter.

Action on FY 2013 Spending Bills Complete 

In March Congress completed work on FY 2013 spending bills. The Labor-HHS-Education spending bill was finalized as a continuing resolution, meaning that programs, including the CRCCP will be funded at FY 2012 levels through the remainder of the fiscal year which ends September 30. The CRCCP is funded at $43 million which will be subject to sequestration and other rescissions. Fight Colorectal Cancer has learned that state colorectal cancer programs will be notified at the end of June by CDC of their FY 2013 funding allocations.

DoD Cancer Research Program Gets Funding Boost – GREAT JOB ADVOCATES!

In March Congress passed and the President signed into law a FY 2013 Department of Defense spending bill. The bill provides $15 million for the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (a $2.2 million increase over FY 2012).

NIH Takes Cut for FY 2013

The FY 2013, when sequestration and department transfers are accounted for, the National Institutes of Health (NIH’s) FY 2013 budget will be $28.926 billion (compared to $30.623 billion in FY 2012) and the NCI’s budget will be $4 .779 billion (compared to $5.069 billion in FY 2012).

Glimmer of Good News for NIH Funding

In a bit of good news for NIH funding, Sens. Durbin (D-IL) and Moran (R-KS) were successful in including an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund that effectively provides a framework for growth of the NIH budget over the next decade. Establishing a reserve fund allows the Budget Committee chair to adjust the budget resolution’s overall spending and revenue limits and the spending allocations for particular congressional committees to ensure that legislation accomplishing a reserve fund’s goal — in this case, increasing funding for NIH research — will not be subject to a procedural bar if it breaches those limits or allocations, so long as the legislation does not increase the deficit.

President’s Budget Offers Slight NIH Funding Increase 

President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request includes an NIH funding increase of $471 million (a 1.5 percent increase) over FY 2012 amounts. The NIH estimates this would result in 351 more research project grants in FY 2014.

Patient Equal Access to Chemotherapy Bill Introduced – ACTION REQUESTED

The “Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act” (H.R. 1801) was introduced by Rep. Higgins on April 26. The bill requires insurers that cover anticancer medications that are intravenously administered or injected to provide no less favorable coverage for oral anti-cancer medications. Please email your representative to urge him/her to cosponsor this legislation.

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