December 19, 2011
This is the last issue of the Advocacy Update for 2011. The next issue will be published on January 15, 2012.
Advocates in Action
Thank you to everyone who attended our two-part advocacy webinar series and our in-person advocacy training in San Diego. Training included an in-depth tutorial on the IMF Advocacy Action Center, the definition of advocacy, details on our advocacy agenda, and what each advocate can do to help achieve our goals. If you were unable to attend online or in-person, you may view the presentations on our website. We will also be offering additional training opportunities next year.
On behalf of the IMF, we would like to thank you for all of your support throughout 2011. The good work and efforts of the myeloma community are essential to IMF’s successful legislative efforts. We truly appreciate all that you do on behalf of myeloma patients.
Have a happy holiday season!
Happenings on the Hill
Below is a summary of some of the legislative issues that IMF has followed in the first session of the 112th Congress.
House Repeals Health Reform Bill
The House voted to repeal 245-189 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on January 19. The symbolic vote was along party lines with only 3 Democrats [Representatives Dan Boren (D-OK), Mike Ross (D-AR), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC)] voting with the Republicans. The House also passed a separate resolution instructing Committees to develop replacement health coverage measures and an amendment that calls for a permanent fix for Medicare physician payment rates.
Congress Averts Government Shutdown with final FY 2011 Continuing Resolution
Congress and the White House reached a deal in April (more than 6 months after the start of the federal fiscal year) that averted a shutdown of the federal government and finalized funding for fiscal year (FY) 2011. The deal cut $39 billion from FY 2010 funding levels. Below are the FY 2011 funding levels for cancer programs:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) - $30.7 billion for the NIH, a $260 million below the FY 2010 level.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) - $5.06 billion, a cut of $42 million.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - The Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program was not funded in FY 2011.
- 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.
President Declares April 2011 National Cancer Control Month
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.
Senate Passes Resolution Designating May as National Cancer Research Month
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced a resolution (S. Res. 172) honoring May as National Cancer Research Month. This resolution recognized the importance of cancer research and the contributions made by scientists and clinicians across the U.S. IMF in addition to a number of national organizations and cancer centers signed on in support of the resolution. The Senate passed S. Res. 172 on May 26.
41 Senators Sign Onto Dear Colleague Letter on NIH Funding
Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) circulated a Dear Colleague letter requesting continued support for research at the NIH. Forty-one Senators signed onto the Casey-Burr Dear Colleague letter to show their support for biomedical research.
Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011 Introduced in the House
Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY) introduced HR 2746, the Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011, on August 1. This important piece of legislation requires health insurance coverage of oral anticancer drugs on terms no less favorable than the coverage provided for intravenously (IV) administered anticancer medications. HR 2746 has 8 cosponsors including Representatives Joe Baca (D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Barney Frank (D-MA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Steve Israel (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Charles Rangel (D-NY).
HR 2746 ensures chemotherapy parity for cancer patients by requiring:
- Any health plan that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment shall provide coverage for prescribed, orally administered anticancer medication that has been approved by the FDA and is used to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
- Orally administered medication shall be provided at a cost to the covered person not to exceed the coinsurance percentage or the copayment amount as is applied to the delivery of an intravenously or port administered or an injected cancer medication prescribed for the same purpose.
- A health plan shall not achieve compliance with legislation by imposing an increase in patient out-of-pocket costs with respect to anticancer medications used to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
- Health plans shall not reclassify such anticancer medications, whether orally-administered, intravenously or port administered or injected, as other than medical benefits to achieve compliance with legislation.
President Signs Executive Order on Drug Shortages
President Obama signed an executive order directing the FDA to broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs and to expedite regulatory reviews that can help prevent or respond to shortages. Under the order, FDA also will work with the Department of Justice, which will examine whether potential shortages have led to illegal price gouging or stockpiling of lifesaving medications.
The executive order requires FDA to expand its current efforts to expedite the review of new manufacturing sites and drug suppliers to help prevent shortages. It also directs FDA to take additional steps to require drug manufacturers to provide adequate advance notice of manufacturing discontinuances or other actions that could lead to critical shortages.
In addition to signing the executive order, the White House announced the president's support for the Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act (S. 296/H.R. 2245). This bipartisan legislation would require manufacturers to notify FDA of any potential drug shortages. According to the White House, early notification of potential drug shortages can help prevent a shortage from becoming a crisis by allowing hospitals, doctors, and manufacturers to take action to ensure medications remain available. Currently, FDA can only require drug manufacturers to disclose the discontinuation of a critical drug when the drug is available through a single manufacturer.
Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to PPACA
The Supreme Court will hear the legal challenges to the PPACA. As expected, the high court granted a hearing in the suit filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The court said it will hear the suit’s challenge to PPACA’s individual mandate — the requirement that almost all Americans buy insurance. As they weigh the mandate, the justices will also have to consider how it affects other parts of the law. If they find the coverage requirement unconstitutional, they’ll have to decide whether to let it fall on its own or whether to strike all or part of the rest of the law along with it.
Congress Finalizes FY 2012 Appropriations
After months of negotiation, the House and Senate finalized the FY 2012 funding levels for federal cancer programs. Below is a breakdown of how cancer programs fared in FY 2012:
- NIH - $30.7 billion for the NIH, the same level as FY 2011. The Cures Acceleration Network also received $10 million.
- NCI - $5.081 billion, an increase of approximately $23 million over FY 2011.
- CDC - The Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program did not receive funding in FY 2012.
- FDA - $2.497 billion, a $50 million increase over FY 2011.
- DoD - DoD’s Peer Review Cancer Research Program will receive $12.8 million, a decrease of $3.2 million below FY 2011.
The final FY 2012 Omnibus Appropriations bill included a provision that subjects funding to a .189% across the board cut as well as an additional 1.83% cut if both the House and Senate pass a bill that offsets funding set aside for disasters relief.