A national group of leaders from the cancer treatment, research and business communities has called on congressional budget leaders to continue to fund the Prevention and Public Health Fund at current levels, and not divert monies to other uses. The fund was established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide sustained national investments in prevention and public health. In a November 6 letter
, 14 directors of National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers wrote budget and other congressional leaders asking that the federal government make “substantial, annual investments in prevention efforts to reduce the risk of cancer that are no less than their current level.”
The 14 directors noted that 500,000 Americans will die of cancer in 2013, but that about half of those deaths could be prevented through better nutrition, more exercise and less smoking. The fund was cut by $6.25 billion over ten years beginning in 2012 in order to avoid cuts to Medicare payments and temporarily extend unemployment benefits. The letter asserted it was a “false choice” to claim that avoiding Medicare cuts and an extension of unemployment benefits could only come at the expense of cancer prevention, treatment and research funding.
Recently, the fund has been the target of numerous attempts to defund it, primarily by House Republicans who are against the ACA; it has often been referred to as “low hanging fruit” because whenever there is a need to find a funding source in Congress it seems that this fund goes to the top of the list.