I am deeply disappointed that President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget would strip nearly $4 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program. The CDC estimates that the loss of funding will mean at least five fewer 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.
However, a number of barriers contribute to low colorectal cancer screening rates, such as lack of awareness and misinformation about screening – not just lack of health coverage. A well-funded colorectal cancer control program is needed to support important awareness and education initiatives across the country.
The hopeful news is that Congress does not have to accept the President’s budget. I urge colorectal cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and physicians to let their members of Congress know that a cut to the colorectal cancer control programs at the CDC is unacceptable.
On a positive note, the President’s budget would increase research funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $471 million (a 1.5 percent increase) over FY 2012 amounts. The NIH estimates this will result in 351 more research project grants in FY 2014.
I recognize that the President and Congress are budgeting in a difficult economic environment, but our country needs dynamic thinking from our policymakers when it comes to budget decisions. Preventing colorectal cancer and targeted treatment reduce downstream costs to our health care system and to our federal government. That makes good budget sense to me.