AGA Institute President Meets With Key Lawmakers on Capitol Hill
April 19, 2017
Dr. Wang discussed NIH funding and access to CRC screenings.
AGA Institute President, Timothy C. Wang, MD, AGAF, recently met with legislators to discuss the future of health-care policy, NIH funding and patient access to colorectal cancer screenings. The topic of NIH funding was especially timely due to the recent release of the president’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget, which outlined an 18.3 percent cut to NIH funding, bringing the institute’s budget to what is was in 2002. Additionally, the continuing resolution that was passed in December to fund the federal government and its agencies expires on April 28.
Need for Sustained NIH Funding
During his meetings, Dr. Wang discussed the importance of consistent and stable NIH funding and the negative implications of cutting funding at such a drastic rate. He met with several supporters of NIH, including the staffs of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt, R-MO, and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-WA. Both offices are committed to supporting a $2 billion increase in the NIH budget this year, but mentioned the challenges they face, since the Trump administration is recommending a $1.2 billion cut in FY17 and a $5.8 billion cut in FY18. All agreed that cuts of this magnitude would be devastating to the research community, would wipe out the next generation of researchers and would be strongly opposed by most members of Congress. Sen. Murray’s staff is particularly concerned about how these cuts would impact the next generation of scientists, since low funding negatively influences the career decisions of many who might be considering careers in research.
Maintaining Access to CRC Screening
Dr. Wang also discussed the importance of access to colorectal cancer screenings, especially as lawmakers consider repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating the essential health benefits package. In an effort to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer and achieve the cancer community’s goal of screening 80 percent of the population by 2018, barriers to screening must be addressed. Dr. Wang advocated for all legislators to cosponsor the Removing Barriers to Screening Act (H.R. 1070/S.479), which would waive the coinsurance for a screening colonoscopy that becomes therapeutic.
Update on Digestive Disease Research Recommendations
Knowing how important research is to the practice of gastroenterology, Dr. Wang also asked for House members to sign onto a letter asking appropriations staff to include language in the upcoming appropriations bill requesting an update to the National Commission on Digestive Disease Research recommendations for research. The commission’s last set of recommendations were released in 2009 and have not been updated since. Innovative and life changing findings have come out of these recommendations in the past and with the update, more are expected.
AGA thanks the offices of the legislators who met with Dr. Wang:
- Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY
- Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA
- Rep. Charlie Dent, R-PA
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-NY
- Rep. Leonard Lance, R-NJ
Learn more about NIH funding, colonoscopy cost sharing or any of AGA’s advocacy efforts. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how you can get involved and meet with your legislators.