An Iowa man was among of group of people from across the country who traveled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to lobby Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority. Gary Streit from Cedar Rapids is part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network which he says wants to keep the focus on the effort.
“Everyone agrees in Congress that they should do something about cancer, but they’re often challenged to convert wishes to action,” Streit says. Streit says those pushing the issue have three main priorities, beginning with more money for research. “Right now we are on an inflation-adjusted basis 22 percent below what we were 10 years ago in terms of funding for the Natational Cancer Institute (NCI), and that is a huge driver of innovation in cancer research and treatment across the country,” Streit says.
He says they are also focusing on correcting a glitch in the Affordable Care Act that impacts the funding of treatment after a colonoscopy.
“If they go in for a colonoscopy screening, and the doctor finds a precancerous polyp and removes it, for some reason those procedures are subject to coinsurance that could cost the patient upwards of four to five hundred dollars. And that is a huge barrier to people getting the kind of colonoscopy screening that they should,” according to Streit.
The third issue involves an initiative of the American Cancer Society for what’s called “palliative care.” He says it’s the ability to provide coordinated treatment to people, to provide them with pain relief, and to provide education for professionals and the public.
Streit says they are optimistic their trip to the nation’s capital will pay dividends. “Two years ago there was a $2 billion cut to the NCI funding, and last year, shortly after this determined group of volunteers from across the country had our lobby day here in Washington, Congress restored $1 billion of that $2 billion cut to the NCI budget,” according to Streit.
Streit says cancer continues to kill 1,600 people every day in the U.S. and it is important that Congress address these issues to keep up the fight against the disease.