For many weeks, our community has been awaiting passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) federal budget, which funds the Lung Cancer Research Program. This week, just days before the budget continuing resolution expired, the House and Senate released the long-awaited conferenced agreement that has been signed by the President to avert a repeat of last year’s holiday-time government shutdown. In anticipation of this effort, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer (a recent merger of Lung Cancer Alliance and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation), led a community letter, co-signed by 22 other lung cancer advocacy groups to speak with one voice for the Lung Cancer Research Program within the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).
We are thankful that the House and Senate reconciled their differences on lung cancer funding. The inconsistencies in the draft reports could have jeopardized the long-standing tradition of dedicated funding for lung cancer research. While disappointed that Congress did not restore the funding level of $20M, as requested by the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus; we were glad that our advocacy prevailed to have the House stand-alone Lung Cancer Research Program funded at $14M in the final conferenced package. This modest annual funding amount in military research will increase the funding level (for the past 10 years) up to a total of $155.5M for lung cancer research within the CDMRP.
In addition to lung cancer research funding, we secured important bill “report language” in the conferenced Department of Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for FY20 that now signals stronger support for the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. Within the initial House LHHS draft report, “the Committee encouraged the CDC to work to increase public awareness of lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk for lung cancer and increase the percentage of high risk individuals who are screened.” At the NIH, “The Committee urged NCI to accelerate research into treatments and implementation of lung cancer preventive services for women”— with a request for an update on these activities in the fiscal year 2021 Congressional Justification.
This is a big WIN for our community and assurance that our voices are being heard! With this achievement of maintaining funding for the Lung Cancer Research Program and language secured in the LHHS bill we have every confidence in even greater outcomes for 2020.
As we conclude this year end season, we thank our lung cancer advocates for making these accomplishments possible. We look forward to working together in the New Year to change the reality of living with lung cancer by addressing stigma, increasing research and ensuring access to care.