ASCO Calls on Congress to Avoid Looming ‘Fiscal Cliff’

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We urge Congress to consider the millions of cancer patients who will be pushed over the edge of the ‘fiscal cliff’ if action isn’t taken.

—Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP

As Congress reconvenes for its lame duck session, ASCO calls on lawmakers to prevent devastating budget cuts to cancer care, research, and the drug review process citing the negative impact to millions of individuals who have cancer. The mandated cuts, known as “sequestration” under the Budget Control Act, will automatically go into effect on January 1, 2013—unless Congress acts. (See interview with Senator Sherrod Brown for more on sequestration.)

ASCO warns the sequestration cuts to cancer research, oncology practices, and the drug review process will affect the 1.6 million individuals newly diagnosed with cancer each year, 12 million Americans living with cancer, and many millions more who will receive a cancer diagnosis over the next decade.

“Cancer patients face a triple threat from the specter of these budget reductions,” said ASCO President Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP. “Not only will critical cancer research sustain a devastating hit, but providers of cancer care who are already struggling to keep their practices open will be faced with significant cuts that will impede access to care. Sequestration will also hinder the federal review and oversight of new oncology treatments.”

According to the Office of Management and Budget, sequestration will reduce the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration budgets each by 8.2% (about $2.5 billion and $318 million, respectively), and Medicare payments to physicians by 2% (more than $11 billion), beginning in January 2013.

“We urge Congress to consider the millions of cancer patients who will be pushed over the edge of the “fiscal cliff” if action isn’t taken,” said Dr. Swain. “Our country cannot afford to slow the tremendous progress that has occurred in cancer research and treatment. Lives depend on it.”

Editor’s note: As this issue of The ASCO Post went to press, Congress was working on proposals to address the automatic budget cuts. For the most current developments on this and other policy issues, visit

© 2012. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All Rights Reserved.




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