In Michigan, the legislature continued crafting their policy legislation for the coming term. Many new members in the House were just starting to have their first bills introduced on the House floor, while the Senate will moving legislation as if nothing was new in their chamber. The House and Senate concentrated on their respective budgets by continuing and finalizing hearings. Earlier in the year, the House attempted to pass a cut to the state's income tax that would leave a $1.1 Billion hole in the State's budget. Now it appears that the House is looking to start making some of those cuts without cutting the income tax with reductions seen in most budgets that the House has passed already. The Health and Human Services budget hasn't been passed yet by the subcommittee and full appropriations committee as of yet. It is the largest budget in state government so it may take a week to finalize the budgetary numbers.
On the policy side, there is a large push with the introduction of several bills that would control the availability, accessibility, and the clinical use of opioids. Pain management is a part of palliative care and ensuring that patients have access to quality palliative care continues to be a top priority for ACS CAN. We will be working with the legislature, policy makers, and those groups working to ensure that quality access continues to be at the forefront of the discussion. Our legislation around oral chemotherapy fairness and tobacco taxes should be finished and ready for introduction by the end of April.
On March 24, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This bill would have significantly altered the accessibility, adequacy, and affordability of meaningful health insurance for millions of Americans, including those who have coverage through Medicaid. ACS CAN does not support this legislation because it would undermine access to affordable, quality coverage, and put patient protections at risk.
The bill would significantly reduce the number of Americans able to access and afford quality health insurance. According to an initial report on the legislation by the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans would have been uninsured by next year and 52 million Americans would be uninsured by 2026—24 million more than under current law. This includes millions of low-income Americans who, because of significant Medicaid funding cuts, a reduction in the premium tax credit and expanded age-rating, would be priced out of the health insurance market. Many of these same Americans also have higher risk factors for cancer.
In the end, House Speaker Paul Ryan, his leadership team, and the Administration decided to pull the vote on Repeal & Replace of the Affordable Care Act since they could not secure the necessary votes to pass the legislation. Although the current law is not perfect it is critical for so many as it relates to our cancer mission.
The President recently introduced a proposed the fiscal year 2018 budget that includes deep cuts to medical research. If approved by Congress, the cuts would represent 19 percent of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) total budget and would likely result in a $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The proposed reduction in NIH funding of $5.8 billion would represent a significant setback for millions of American cancer patients, survivors, and their families. It would also dramatically constrain the prospect for breakthrough American medical innovation—an essential American economic driver.
If enacted, the budget proposal would likely result in a nearly $1 billion decrease for cancer research at NCI—making it the largest funding reduction in its history. The cuts would set research funding back to the level it was in 2000 when accounting for inflation.
In December, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill represented lawmakers' overwhelming bipartisan commitment to the promise and necessity of medical research to our country's future. The legislation included $4.8 billion in new funding for the NIH, including $1.8 billion for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. This legislation provided substantial new investment in research and will lead to new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other serious diseases. The proposed cuts that have been introduced will erase all of that.
NIH-funded medical research is conducted in thousands of labs and universities across the country. These grants in turn spawn increased private investment and development. Drastically reducing NIH's budget would jeopardize our nation's potential to save more lives while simultaneously risking America's position as the global leader in medical research.
Michigan Day at the Capitol:
ACS CAN advocates were very active around this issue and the hard work showed as key members of Congress backed away from their initial support for the legislation. Our work on the Affordable Care Act is not over and ACS CAN will remain diligent in our efforts to ensure that health care is adequate and affordable for everyone.
Registration for Michigan’s Day at the Capitol (formerly called Lobby Day) has been open for just about a month now. The Day at the Capitol will be on Wednesday, May 3rd. Registration will close on April 21st. This year, we’ll be holding our event at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. The agenda for the day will be similar to previous years with some small changes. The URL below will take you to the registration site.
Any ACS volunteer is welcome to attend, but please let ACS CAN staff know prior to inviting anyone to ensure we are getting the right volunteers. We are looking for volunteers that are motivated to make a difference in the fight against cancer, are passionate about our mission, and are willing to share their cancer story. Volunteers do not need to be advocacy volunteers or have any experience advocating. Appointments with lawmakers will be scheduled for all volunteers that attend.
Our Day at the Capitol will focus on three important issues this year:
· The need to increase tobacco taxes to curb youth tobacco use and provide much-needed funding for Michigan’s prevention programs, which have been drastically cut over the past decade, to provide cancer services and tobacco prevention to Michigan residents that need it the most.
· Increase access to cancer drugs through Oral Chemotherapy fairness.
· Create a roadmap for the future of Palliative Care in Michigan
If you have any questions about Michigan's Day at the Capitol or any other questions, please contact Matt Phelan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrew Schepers (email@example.com)
- No changes planned at this point for tobacco and cancer prevention funding levels in the budget.
- Legislation to limit the ability to prescribe and use opioids has been introduced and could affect cancer patients and their pain management.
- Register for Michigan's Day at the Capitol at www.acscan.org/milobbyday