ACTION ALERT FROM ONE VOICE AGAINST CANCER (OVAC)

On February 6, 2006, President Bush released his proposed federal budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 to Congress. Unfortunately, the President’s budget fails to meet even the basic public health needs for cancer patients and survivors as well as for other Americans with chronic disease and disability.

On the heels of approving the first cut to NIH and NCI funding 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.

While this is very serious situation, there is a glimmer of hope. While he does make budget recommendations, ultimately, the President doesn’t get to decide how much money is spent on these critical programs. That responsibility lies solely with the Congress. Thus, the only way to GUARANTEE that these programs are not only saved from cuts but also receive necessary increases in FY 2007 is for Congress restore these draconian proposed cuts AND provide the appropriate increases.

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 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

The week of February 27-March 3, we need you to join the millions of Americans touched by cancer to tell your Representative and Senators to reject this misguided budget.

Tell your legislators:

When the Budget Resolution is considered in the House and Senate, ask them to oppose the President’s proposed cuts and stand with you, their constituent, in support of our efforts to increase funding for cancer research and programs. Request that they vote to increase funding for cancer research and programs by supporting every effort to increase funding for Function 550 over last year’s level.

  • Please call 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representative.
  • Once connected to the office, ask to speak with the legislative assistant that handles health care or budget issues.
  • Share with them the information and request above regarding their bosses vote on the FY 2007 budget resolution.
  • Ask for a commitment from them to support any/every effort and amendment 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 to support increasing funding for cancer research and programs.