The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today presented Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) and Fred Upton (R-MI-6) with the annual Congressional Champion for Cancer Care Award in recognition of their commitment to legislation that focuses on medical innovation. The award honors Members of Congress who are leading champions for patients and survivors of cancer, their families, and their care delivery teams.
Reps. DeGette and Upton jointly introduced and led efforts to pass the 21st Century Cures Act into law with strong bipartisan support in 2016. The 21st Century Cures Act was designed to improve and accelerate the pace of biomedical research in the United States by creating new medical research programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration, including the Cancer Moonshot and Oncology Center of Excellence. The legislation also addressed complicated issues related to health information technology and electronic health records, and the interoperability of these systems.
Reps. DeGette and Upton are now co-championing the 21st Century Cures 2.0 legislation (H.R. 6000), which builds off the success of the 2016 law and includes several of ASCO’s policy priorities, such as diversity in clinical trials, expanded telehealth flexibilities, access to Medicare claims data, supplemental funding for the NIH, and the creation of Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), among others.
“ASCO is pleased to give Representatives DeGette and Upton the Congressional Champion for Cancer Care Award for their continued commitment to advancing science, especially for the cancer community,” said Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO Board Chair of the Association for Clinical Oncology. “Their dedication to patients’ needs has been apparent throughout their tenures in the U.S. House of Representatives and continues to shine as they support important legislation.”
In addition to her work on the 21st Century Cures Act, Rep. DeGette has been supportive of other ASCO legislative priorities. She is a co-sponsor of the Safe Step Act (HR 2163) and the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (HR 3173) and supports efforts that oppose cuts to Medicare reimbursement and increase funding for the NIH.
“While we’ve made tremendous progress since the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act … Cures 2.0 will pave the way for the creation of a new advanced research agency … that will bring together some of the nation’s brightest minds to end cancer as we know it,” said Rep. DeGette. “As we work to provide you with all the support we can, we want you to know how grateful we are for all the work that you do, day in and day out, to care for patients across the country. Thank you.”
In addition to co-championing the 21st Century Cures Act and Cures 2.0, Rep. Upton, too, is a co-sponsor of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which would help protect patients from unnecessary care delays by streamlining and standardizing the prior authorization process under the Medicare Advantage program. He also added his name to a “Dear Colleague” letter opposing significant cuts to Medicare reimbursement that would have hindered the ability of oncology providers to treat patients in a timely manner. Reflecting his commitment, he is active in the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus and the Childhood Cancer Caucus. ASCO applauds this unwavering commitment to improving cancer care for all patients.
“Cancer doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican. Finding new cures and treatments for these devastating illnesses is something that all of us should be able to support,” said Rep. Upton. “The prevention, treatment and ultimately curing of the deadliest cancers requires an all-hands-on-deck effort, which is why I’m proud to be part of this bipartisan work.”
ASCO presented the awards to Reps. DeGette and Upton during the 2022 ASCO Advocacy Summit, where Association volunteers from across the United States met virtually with lawmakers to discuss critical issues facing patients with cancer and their cancer care teams.