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On World Cancer Day, Higgins calls for robust national investment in cancer research

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Tue, Feb 4th 2020 12:10 pm

Higgins, who serves as House cancer caucus co-chair, says improving treatments & outcomes should be goal in State of the Union, federal budget

House of Representatives Cancer Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is advocating for a significant increase in the nation’s investment in medical research and hopes initiatives to advance better treatments are included in the State of the Union address taking place today (also World Cancer Day). Higgins said he also hopes to see additional funding for research included in the president’s 2021 budget scheduled for release next week.

“Federal funding for medical research is not keeping pace with the swift speed of science. With just 10 to 13% of National Cancer Institute research grants funded, we are leaving opportunities to provide better treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases on the cutting room floor,” Higgins said. “Upfront investments in research saves the nation exponentially in long-term medical costs associated with disease treatment. For patients facing a heartbreaking diagnosis, and their families, these breakthroughs can’t come soon enough.”

In 2020, $6.44 billion in federal funding will be allocated to National Cancer Institute, an increase of $297 million over FY2019. However, while funding dollar-for-dollar has seen slim increases, when factoring in inflation and the increased cost of research, the pace of investment in cancer research has slowed over time. (Graph)

Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society announced in its annual report that cancer mortality rates continue to decline, falling 29% over a 26-year period. ACS estimates 16.9 million Americans with a history of cancer are living today; however, 1.8 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2020.

In addition to his role on the bipartisan cancer caucus, Higgins founded and serves as co-chair of the National Institutes of Health caucus, he is a member of the congressional childhood cancer caucus, and is a strong voice for cancer patients in Western New York and on Capitol Hill, most recently advocating for federal action to address a nationwide pediatric chemotherapy drug shortage.

Higgins previously introduced the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act, bipartisan legislation that would add over $57 billion in new funding over six years to the National Institutes of Health in addition to the $29.9 billion in annual NIH baseline funding. He has been a leader on the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, which would ensure insurance parity for oral chemotherapy drugs; and he previously testified before the House Budget Committee calling for the doubling of the nation’s commitment to cancer research.

In 2019, Western New York was awarded over $103.5 million in research grants through the National Institutes of Health. Many of these awards go to promising research conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Higgins also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, including its subcommittee on health, as well as the House Budget Committee.

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