President's FY 2020 Budget Threatens Progress Against Cancer, Patient Access to Care

Statement by ASCO President Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO
March 12, 2019

“We strongly oppose the White House budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which would stall our nation’s progress against cancer and impede access to needed care for the millions of Americans dealing with cancer. The proposal would make drastic, unprecedented cuts to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—which houses the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These reductions would undo efforts of the past four years to revitalize the NIH and the NCI, including recent funding increases supported by the Administration.  It would also further aggravate access to care challenges faced by Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries every day.      

“The nation’s fragile biomedical research infrastructure has only just started recovering from a decade of flat funding. The White House budget would unravel years of progress and significantly impede our nation’s ability to conquer cancer. While we’re pleased that the President’s budget does include $50 million specifically for pediatric cancer research, any possible gains will be undermined by the nearly 15 percent proposed funding cut to both the NIH and the NCI overall.

“The proposal would also harm beneficiary access to high-quality cancer care under both Medicaid and Medicare in several ways, such as transitioning federal funding for Medicaid to block grants, permitting Medicaid to impose work requirements across the board, imposing new utilization controls on some cancer therapies, and moving some drugs currently covered under Medicare Part B to Part D. Such changes do not meet ASCO’s principles for healthcare reform and could disrupt care for patients with cancer.

“We urge Congress to reject the proposed cuts to NIH and to affirm its bipartisan commitment to the millions of Americans with cancer by providing $41.6 billion to the NIH and $6.5 billion to the NCI in FY 2020. We also urge policymakers to preserve and enhance access to high-quality cancer care for all Americans by rejecting the proposed changes to Medicaid and Medicare.”

ASCO members can urge Congress to support federal funding for cancer research via the ASCO ACT Network.