Hill Day Advocates Highlight Importance of NIH/NCI Funding

Nearly 80 cancer center directors, physicians, researchers, and patient advocates representing 25 states plus the District of Columbia visited Capitol Hill on May 12 to urge legislators to provide stable, predictable support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Fiscal Year 2017. The event allowed advocates to participate in over 130 meetings with members of Congress and their staff, including leadership and key committee staff.

Hill Day was co-hosted by AACI, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The event kicked off with a reception the evening prior to Hill Day. Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) were recognized for their outstanding support for cancer research.

Both members of Congress attended the reception to accept their awards and praised the work cancer centers and cancer researchers are doing to transform the discovery and delivery of care. Representative Castor applauded Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL for its commitment to cancer care, while Representative Fleischmann explained how cancer had impacted his own family. Representative David Price (D-NC) stopped by and offered remarks as well, explaining the lasting impression patient advocates have left on him.

The Hill Day began Thursday morning with a breakfast briefing, where Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Minority Clerk, Alex Keenan, delivered remarks. Keenan discussed the work his boss, Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), is doing to advance medical research priorities.

Following the breakfast, AACI, AACR, ASCO advocates hit Capitol Hill, and thanked Members of Congress for providing the NIH with a $2 billion increase in FY 2016 and asked that Congress provide at least $34.5 billion for the NIH in FY 2017. Hill Day participants also expressed support for Vice President Joe Bidenís National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, urging legislators to consider a $680 million increase for the NCI to initiate the effort.

The visits to Capitol Hill were well-received, with many Members of Congress voicing support for the FY2017 appropriations request and others agreeing to cosponsor National Cancer Research Month resolutions led by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

The resolutions, H. Res. 717 and S. Res. 459, recognize May as National Cancer Research Month. The bipartisan resolutions were co-sponsored by 10 senators, 17 representatives, and endorsed by over 70 cancer organizations, including over 40 AACI cancer centers. S. Res. 459 was unanimously approved by the Senate on May 25.