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January 25, 2005

 

The Honorable George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, DC  20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

One Voice Against Cancer(OVAC), a collaboration of more than 40 organizations representing millions ofAmericans affected by cancer, respectfully urges the Administration andCongress to make funding for cancer research and programs a priority in fiscalyear (FY) 2006.

 

Prior investments in cancerresearch and programs have resulted in enormous health dividends.  Since 1971,when President Nixon and Congress declared war against cancer, death rates havedeclined 57 percent.  Today, nearly 10 million survivors are living with ahistory of cancer.  Unfortunately, despite this progress, our fight is far fromover.  Cancer still strikes one out of every two men and one out of every threewomen, and this year alone, cancer will claim the lives of more than 560,000Americans. 

 

Public opinion pollsconsistently show that cancer is the disease most feared by Americans. Fortunately,the prior investments and national commitment to cancer research and programshave led to real progress.  We are now at a point where reaching the NationalCancer Institute’s (NCI) goal of eliminating death and suffering due to cancerby the year 2015 is within our reach.  However, we cannot reach this goalwithout the continued support of the Administration and Congress.

 

OVAC was heartened when youstated two years ago that “in order to win the war against cancer, we must fundthe war against cancer,” but we are very concerned by recent reports suggestingthe Administration’s budget for FY 2006 will propose a cut in the overall budgetof the National Institutes of Health and other critical programs. Such a cutwould be a major reversal in our nation’s commitment to the fight againstcancer.

 

Please know we appreciate that our nation faces many challenges and Congress has limited resources to allocate.  However, we are very concerned that without increased funding for the key federal agencies involved in cancer research, education, prevention, awareness, treatment, and control, the nation will fail to make the gains necessary to achieve the NCI 2015 goal.  For FY 2006, OVAC urges the Administration and Congress to support the following funding recommendations.

 

 

National Institutes ofHealth (NIH)

$30.1 billion ($1.7billion over FY 2005)

The tremendous investment our nation has made in the NIHhas reaped remarkable returns and set the table for a period of unparalleledinnovation in the fight against cancer and other diseases.  For FY 2006, OVACurges the Administration and Congress to provide $30.1 billion for the NIH, a$1.7 billion increase over FY 2005.  This funding level will allow the NIH tomaintain the current pace of discovery and innovation.

 

National CancerInstitute (NCI)

Support the NCIProfessional Judgment budget, but at a minimum, provide $5.21 billion ($386million over FY 2005) to maintain the current pace of progress.

For fiscal year (FY) 2006,OVAC endorses the professional judgment budget prepared by the NCI Director. This budget, which calls for $6.17 billion for FY 2006, represents our nationalbattle plan against cancer, outlining the critical core research that iscurrently underway  as well as the most promising and extraordinary researchopportunities   The budget is developed through an open and public process andreflects the best thinking of cancer researchers, patients, clinicians, andother constituency groups and is focused on the Institute’s goal of eliminatingsuffering and death from cancer by the year 2015.

 

As previously mentioned, members of OVAC are veryconcerned by recent reports suggesting the Administration’s budget for FY 2006will propose a cut in the NIH budget.  The members of OVAC, which collectivelyrepresent millions of Americans, plan to actively engage the Administration andCongress to ensure the NCI has the resources it needs to continue the progressbeing made in the fight against cancer.

 

OVAC recognizes the fiscal challenges facingpolicymakers, but does not believe that those challenges require us to diminishor weaken our national commitment to conquering cancer.  While the long-term goalof providing adequate funding to explore the most promising opportunities mustremain paramount, for FY 2006, OVAC urges the Administration and Congress to providethe NCI with at least $5.21 billion, a $386 million (8 percent) increase overFY 2005.  This level of funding is the bare minimum required to protect ourcancer research enterprise and maintain the current pace of discovery. 

 

National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)

$207.88 million ($11.74million over FY 2005)

NCMHD was created by Congressto help address the undue burden of chronic and acute disease, morbidity andmortality, and lower survival rates borne by racial and ethnic minority groups,rural populations and other medically underserved.  OVAC urges theAdministration and Congress to provide the NCMHD with $207.88 million for FY2006 to advance its critical work coordinating and advancing health disparitiesresearch across the NIH.  OVAC seeks to ensure that NCMHD has the resources todevelop and enhance initiatives aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminatingdisparities in many chronic diseases, including cancer.  Having worked withCongress to establish the NCMHD, the members of OVAC are committed to seeing itfulfill its mission and achieve its goals and objectives.

 

Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (CDC)

$409 million ($95.13million over FY 2005)

The Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention’s (CDC) state-based cancer programs provide vitalresources for cancer monitoring and surveillance, breast and cervical cancerscreening, state cancer control planning and implementation, and awareness initiativestargeting skin, prostate, colon, ovarian and blood cancers.  For FY 2006, OVAC reiteratesits requests for the following funding levels for these proven programs:

 

·        National Comprehensive CancerControl Program: $25 million (+$9.13 million)

TheComprehensive Cancer Control program provides grants and technical assistanceto help states develop and implement plans addressing the cancers mostsignificantly affecting their communities through prevention, early detectionand treatment.  OVAC’s request will allow this program to be expanded and helpmore states implement plans that were previously developed.

 

·        National Program of CancerRegistries: $65 million (+$16.41 million)

TheNational Program of Cancer Registries facilitates state tracking of cancertrends and subsequent allocation of resources to address specific needs, whilealso identifying highly effective cancer control programs that can be emulatedacross the country.  OVAC’s request will enable states to continue to collect andanalyze high-quality data as well as evaluate existing cancer preventionefforts..

 

·        National Breast and CervicalCancer Early Detection Program: $250 million (+$45.54 million)

OVACappreciates the Administration’s longstanding commitment to this importantprogram that provides free breast and cervical screening tests to low incomeand uninsured women.  Unfortunately, due to resource constraints, this highlysuccessful program is only able to reach between 18-20 percent of eligiblewomen.  OVAC’s request will allow more than 125,000 additional women to bescreened through the program.

 

·        Colorectal Cancer Screening, Education & Outreach Initiative: $25 million (+$10.37 million)

Strong scientific evidence indicates that regular screening andtreatment is effective in reducing colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. However, screening rates for CRC are currently lower than for other cancerscreening services.  The Colorectal Cancer Screening, Education & OutreachInitiative helps increase public awareness of colorectal cancer, educate healthcare providers about colorectal screening guidelines and assist state programswith colorectal cancer priorities.  With additional resources this program willbe able to expand its awareness initiatives and reduce the number of preventablecolorectal cancer deaths.

 

·        National Skin Cancer PreventionEducation Program: $5 million (+$2.91 million)

Skincancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and is largelypreventable.  OVAC’s request will allow the program to educate the public aboutways to protect themselves and reduce the risks of getting skin cancer.

 

·        Prostate Cancer ControlInitiatives: $20 million (+5.93 million)

Thisinitiative provides the public, with special emphasis on men and theirphysicians, with information about prostate cancer screening and earlydetection.  OVAC’s request will allow the program to expand and improve itsoutreach efforts.

 

·        Ovarian Cancer ControlInitiatives: $9 million (+$4.434 million)

TheOvarian Cancer Initiative partners with academic and medical institutions tospur discovery of techniques that will detect this cancer and develop moresuccessful treatments.  OVAC’s request will speed the rate of progress that isbeing made and restore hope to the more than 25,000 women who will be diagnosedwith this devastating illness this year.

 

·        Geraldine Ferraro Blood CancerProgram: $5 million (+$0.41 million)

Authorizedunder the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act of 2002,this program was created to provide public and patient education about bloodcancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.  OVAC’s request will allowthe program to continue to provide patients witheducational, disease management and survivorship resources to enhance treatmentand prognosis. 

 

Health Resources andServices Administration, Nursing Workforce Programs

$210 million ($59.4million over FY 2005)

Over the next 15 years, thenumber of Medicare beneficiaries with cancer is expected to double, while morethan 1.1 million nursing positions go unfilled.  The critical role of nurses inour health care system cannot be overstated.  Oncology nurses are on thefront-lines of the provision of quality care for cancer patients and are vitalto administering chemotherapy, managing patient treatments and side-effects andproviding counseling to patients and family members.

 

Without an adequate supply ofnurses, there will not be enough qualified oncology nurses to provide quality,comprehensive cancer care to a growing patient population in need.  Nurses arealso vital to helping conduct cancer research through clinical trials, and ashortage will slow down the pace of medical research progress.

 

OVAC joins with the nursingcommunity in asking the Administration and Congress to provide $210 million inFY 2006 for the Nurse Reinvestment Act and the other nursing workforceprograms.  These programs will help address the multiple factors contributingto the nationwide nursing shortage, including the decline in studentenrollments, shortage of faculty and poor public perception of nursing as aviable and worthwhile profession.

 

 

Thank you for your attentionto these recommendations.  We look forward to working with the Administrationand Congress to ensure that funding for cancer research and related programs isa top priority in FY 2006 and beyond.

 

Respectfully,

 

Alliance for Prostate Cancer Prevention (APCaP)

American Academy ofDermatology Association

American Association forCancer Research

American Cancer Society

American College ofObstetricians and Gynecologists

American College ofSurgeons

American Foundation forUrologic Disease

American Society forTherapeutic Radiology and Oncology

American UrologicalAssociation

Association of AmericanCancer Institutes

Association of State andTerritorial Chronic Disease Directors

Cancer Research andPrevention Foundation

Colorectal Cancer Coalition

Colorectal Cancer Network

EyesOnThePrize

Friends of Cancer Research

Hadassah, the Women's ZionistOrganization of America

Intercultural Cancer CouncilCaucus

International MyelomaFoundation

Kidney Cancer Association

Lance Armstrong Foundation

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Lymphoma Research Foundation

Men's Health Network

National Alliance forHispanic Health

National Coalition for CancerResearch (NCCR)

National Prostate CancerCoalition

Oncology Nursing Society

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Pancreatic Cancer ActionNetwork (PanCAN)

Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition (PPCC)

Sarcoma Foundation of America

Trust for America's Health

UnitedOstomy Association

Us TOO International Prostate CancerEducation and Support Network