May 31, 2017 — The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) released a statement last week strongly opposing the extensive cuts to cancer research and Medicaid funding in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget released by the White House. The association said these substantial reductions in support for medical research and care would destabilize the progress toward finding cures and negatively impact cancer patients across the country.
The request would slash budgets for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) by upwards of 20 percent each. Federal investment in cancer research has played a role in every major innovation in the fight against cancer and a 23 percent decline in cancer deaths over the past two decades. The massive cuts proposed in the budget would place this progress and patients in serious jeopardy, according to ASTRO.
The NIH and NCI cuts would be achieved largely by capping overhead costs associated with federal research funding at 10 percent, in contrast to the average 50 to 60 percent that institutions currently receive to defray the administrative costs of scientific research. Implementing an unrealistic cap on these administrative dollars would result in fewer jobs for researchers, especially for early career scientists, and less support for clinical trials. More dangerously, it could cause entire research programs to shut down.
In addition to curtailing support for cancer research, the budget also proposes more than $600 billion in cuts to Medicaid that would limit patient access to health coverage and care. Multiple studies have demonstrated a link between inadequate health insurance and delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment, ultimately resulting in higher mortality rates. New limits on coverage for cancer patients will restrict their access to the treatments they need and deserve, the association said. Inadequate coverage also leads to higher costs that are felt throughout the economy.
In March, ASTRO joined cancer research advocates in opposing these cuts in the President’s draft budget proposal. Now that these proposed cuts have come to fruition in the official budget request, ASTRO strongly encourages Congress to support cancer patients nationwide by rejecting the cuts and pursuing alternatives that preserve the viability of cancer research and care.
For more information: www.astro.org