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OVAC Urges the Senate to Support Funding Increases to Cancer Research and Program Funding!
By Greg Brozeit
03.14.06



BACKGROUND

On the heels of approving the first cuts to NIH and NCI since 1970 in FY 2006, the President has proposed even deeper cuts to NCI in FY 2007. As a result, the total number of NIH-funded research project grants would drop by 642, or 2 percent, below last year's level. The President's budget would cut funding for 18 of the 19 institutes—all, except the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Funding for the National Cancer Institute would be cut by $40 million.

In addition to these cuts in medical research, the President's budget also proposes deep reductions at CDC for chronic disease prevention, quality of life programs, and health promotion. Specifically, the proposal cuts nearly $20 million from chronic disease programs, which include cancer control, prevention, and survivorship. In fact, under the President's proposal, the CDC Cancer programs, which are already severely under-funded, would be cut by more the $3 million.

This week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Senate Budget Resolution, which sets the overall funding allocations for all federal spending. As currently drafted, the Senate Budget Resolution CUTS funding for medical research and public health programs. While this is very serious situation, there is a glimmer of hope. Sometime THIS WEEK and possibly as soon as March 14, the Senate will vote on the SPECTER-HARKIN amendment to increase funding for all health and education programs by $7 billion. The only way to GUARANTEE that cancer research and program are not only saved from cuts but also receive necessary increases in FY 2007 is for the Senate to pass the SPECTER-HARKIN Amendment.

We simply cannot rely on the Appropriations Committee to fund programs at appropriate levels if they do not have the authority to spend the money. As we saw last year, the Appropriations Committee can only spend as much money as they are allocated. That starts with the Congressional Budget Resolution, which sets the spending caps for the year by "Functions." For health care, including medical research and public health programs, the critical Function is "550." The bottom line is simple -- if the Budget Resolution CUTS Function 550, the Appropriations bill MUST CUT medical research and public health programs.

The SPECTER-HARKIN amendment restores health and education funding to the same levels they were at just two years ago. That's right, in just two short years, funding for these critical programs have been cut by $7 billion. If we don't reverse the trend this year, it will only get worse in the future.

The President himself has said, "in order to win the war against cancer we must fund the war against cancer," and in proclaiming National Cancer Control month last April said, "aggressive funding will lead scientists to earlier diagnoses and improved treatments for lung, colorectal and other cancers." The budget he has proposed is far from adequate to fulfill this pledge for "aggressive funding." Additionally, 92 Senators and 280 Representatives signed a letter to the President in support of providing the resources necessary to end suffering and death from cancer by 2015.

The President and Members of Congress can't have it both ways -- if they support cancer research and public health programs and are serious about their commitment to end suffering and death from cancer, they must support a Congressional Budget Resolution that increases Function 550 funding over last year's level. If they support a Budget Resolution that cuts Function 550, that means they support cutting cancer research, public health programs at CDC and quality of life for all Americans who are living with cancer.

ACTION NEEDED

We need you to speak for the millions of Americans living with and beyond cancer by calling your Senators TODAY and telling them to SUPPORT the SPECTER-HARKIN amendment.

Tell your legislators:

When the Budget Resolution is considered in the Senate this week, ask them to oppose the President's proposed cuts to medical research and public health and stand with you, their constituent, in support of our efforts to increase funding for cancer research and programs. Request that they vote FOR the SPECTER-HARKIN amendment to increase funding for health and education by $7 billion, which only restores funding for these programs to the FY 2005 levels.

  • Please call 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senators.
  • Once connected to the office, ask to speak with the legislative assistant that handles health care.
  • Share with them the information above and share why these programs (cancer research and programs) are important to you, their constituent.
  • Ask for a commitment from them to support the SPECTER-HARKIN amendment and any/every effort to increase funding for Function 550 and cancer research and programs.
  • Make it clear that there is no excuse, rationale, or explanation to justify voting against their constituents and approximately 1.5 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year and the nearly 10 million Americans living with and beyond cancer.
  • Finally, let them know you will be following the budget process closely and ask them to keep you up to date on what actions they take.


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