In 1971, then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Cancer Act and declared a “war on cancer.” At that time, this act provided the National Cancer Institute with a tremendous boost of $200 million dollars. Forty six years later, we have made major strides in medical research in the war on cancer.
This progress was made in large part due to the continued support and investment from the federal government. It may seem like a lot but every dollar (billions of dollars) is needed to support research efforts. The National Cancer Institute’s budget was $4.8 billion in cancer research in the 2013 fiscal year, and funding has averaged $4.9 billion over the past six years. (National Cancer Institute, 2014)
We are not seeing a growth in funding the war on cancer.
More: ASCO’s one pager about Federally-Funded Cancer Research
Why have we seen cuts to research funding?
In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) in an effort to reduce the federal deficit. The legislation created a few different mechanisms for achieving that goal:
- First, the bill cut $1 trillion from the federal budget by establishing caps for all discretionary spending for the next 10 years.
- Second, the bill created a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in savings over ten years. The Super Committee was given two years to come up with a plan to achieve those savings and when they failed to do so, a blunt, across the board cut, known as sequestration took effect.
Since then, each year sequestration has lowered the funding caps set in the Budget Control Act. Congress voted to provide temporary relief from the lowered caps in 2016 and 2017, but unless action is taken in 2018, sequestration will return with full force.
Advocates play an important role in the fight for federal funding for medical research.
Where are we today?
The harmful effects of sequestration have been felt across the government, but it has been particularly detrimental to medical research. Many scientists have been forced to pause or abandon ongoing research projects due to a lack of funding. Talented, bright, young scientists are being lost because they can’t find funds for their work.
The uncertainty has also prevented research initiatives from beginning important, potentially life-saving, work. Cancer can’t be put on hold. Since the Budget Control Act passed, more than 11 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer.
But there is some good news. In 2016, the federal government recommitted to defeating cancer with the formation of the Cancer Moonshot, an initiative that aims to accelerate research and increase access to treatment and prevention services. Unfortunately, sequestration would substantially undercut that commitment and impede the progress of that initiative.
What can we do?
As lawmakers look to pass FY18 spending bills, Fight CRC is partnering with Research!America to tell our legislators to #RaisetheCaps!
We need your help.
Our advocacy team will be on the Hill September 13-14 meeting with members of Congress, but we need your support from home. Here’s what our friends at Research!America advise:
- Send a tweet via Twitter directly to House and Senate members using the hashtags #RaisetheCaps and #CutsHurt
- Call your representatives and urge them to support raising the caps
- Send an e-mail to House and Senate members
- Send a letter to Members of Congress using our template
- Share social media messages and infographics
Fight CRC is continuing to monitor progress on the FY18 spending bills and will keep you posted! If you haven’t yet, register as an advocate. We will email you when it’s time to take action.
Connect with other advocates by joining our Advocates of Fight CRC Facebook group. This is a easy way to get updates in the group so you’re in the know.
Registration is now open for Call-On Congress! Come fight with us in D.C. and make sure your representative knows YOUR story and thinks of YOU next time they debate and vote on key issues impacting patients.