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April 15, 2011

Advocates in Action

New Mexico – Great news! SB 385, a bill that would require equal coverage for orally administered chemotherapy and intravenous and injected chemotherapy was signed by Governor Martinez into law on April 4, 2011. The law is scheduled to go into effect on June 17, 2011. Thank you to everyone who emailed Gov. Martinez and encouraged her to sign it.  And, a special thanks to our Advocate of the Month, David Cowan who provided oral testimony to the members of the House Health & Government Affairs Committee at the beginning of this process.

You can read David’s amazing story on our Advocate of the Month page.

Step-by-Step Guide to District Visits – You don’t need to travel to DC to make a difference. U.S. Members of Congress not only have offices in DC but also have local offices in or near your hometown. And, a personal visit is the MOST effective way to communicate your concerns.

In the wake of budget cuts and healthcare reform implementation, we must call on our legislators to retain a sharp focus on critical elements affecting ALL myeloma patients.

Follow these 6 easy steps to scheduling your district visit!

Step 1: Visit the Advocacy Action Center. Click on the “Elected Officials” tab on the homepage.

Step 2: Type in your zip code to locate your Senators and Representatives.

Step 3: Click on your Senator or Representative and select the “Contact” tab. Please be sure to contact the local district office and not the DC office.

Step 4: Request a personal visit by phoning the appointment scheduler of your legislator and identifying yourself as a constituent. If your Senator or Representative cannot meet with you ask to meet with a Legislative Assistant.  

Step 5: During your visit share your personal story that relates to one of the Cancer Patient Statement of Principles below. Your visit may only allow enough time to discuss some of them, so focus on 1-2 that relate to your situation and the rest will be in the congressional leave behind.

  • Ensure equality of access for all cancer patients.
  • Reform and streamline policies and procedures for early approval of new cancer treatments
  • Support innovation to develop more effective cancer treatments
  • Support research uncovering the causes of cancer

Step 6: Continue building relationships with your legislators. Make this the first of many visits. And, have fun!

Have you visited with your state or federal legislators? Do you have an ongoing relationship with any of your legislators? We want to hear about it! Please email Meghan Buzby at mbuzby@myeloma.org with your story and we will include it in our next Advocacy Update.

Happenings on the Hill

Congress Averts Government Shutdown with final FY 2011 Continuing Resolution
Congress and the White House reached a deal last week that would avert a shutdown of the federal government and finalize funding for fiscal year (FY) 2011.  The deal would cut around $39 billion from FY 2010 funding levels.  This includes the $12 billion in reductions previously approved by Congress and signed into law under the previous three continuing resolutions (CR), as well as nearly $28 billion in additional new spending cuts.

Below is a breakdown of how cancer programs fared in the final FY 2011 CR: 

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) - $30.7 billion for the NIH, a $260 million or 0.8 % reduction below the FY 2010 level.  We do not have specifics on the allocation for the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  If the reductions to the NIH were applied across the board, NCI's budget for FY 11 could be $5.06 billion, a cut of $42 million.  The CR fails to provide funding for the Cures Acceleration Network, which would delay the implementation of this program created in the health reform bill.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - $5.66 billion, an $807 million or 12.5% cut below the FY10 level.  It appears that the cuts to CDC may be limited to specific programs outside of the chronic disease center at the agency. The Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program is located in the chronic disease center.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - $2.462 billion, a $107 million increase over its FY 2010 budget.
  • Department of Defense’s (DoD) - DoD’s Peer Review Cancer Research Program will receive $16 million. 

The CR also makes a 0.2% across the board cut from all non-defense programs and the figures listed above do not reflect this cut.  Additionally, all previous policy riders that would have defunded the federal health reform law were eliminated.  At the time this article was written, both the House and Senate had not yet formally voted on the final FY 2011 CR but both Chambers were expected to pass the CR. 

President Declares April 2011 National Cancer Control Month
On March 31, President Obama proclaimed April 2011 as National Cancer Control Month.  In his proclamation, the President encouraged citizens, Government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent and control cancer.  Since Congress passed a joint resolution in 1938, the President has issued an annual proclamation declaring April as "Cancer Control Month."

For more information about the legislation listed above or any other IMF advocacy initiative, contact IMF’s Director of Government Relations, Christine Murphy at cmurphy@myeloma.org or 703-738-1498.