ASCO will immediately urge Congress to enact measures that retroactively reinstate critical funding to ensure patients have continued access to high quality cancer care.
—Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP
March 1 marked the beginning of sequestration, the unprecedented automatic budget cuts that immediately take effect across the federal government—after months of futile negotiations by the President and Congress.
Sequestration will have a shattering impact on the entire cancer enterprise in the United States. The cuts will be far-reaching and widely felt, and—ultimately—it’s the cancer patient, fighting for his or her life, who’s going to feel the most profound impact from reductions in clinical cancer research, slowdowns in the drug review and approval process, and oncology practices being squeezed by cuts to reimbursement.
With the White House and Congress unable to reach a bipartisan agreement, federal agencies that fund major cancer-related activities now must implement the sequestration-mandated, across-the-board budget reductions. Posing a triple threat to cancer patients, the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration will be reduced by more than 5% each, and Medicare reimbursement to physicians who provide cancer care will be reduced by 2%.
ASCO is deeply disappointed in the failure of lawmakers to avert this fiscal crisis, and will closely monitor the impact of sequestration on the oncology community. In the meantime, ASCO will immediately urge Congress to enact measures that retroactively reinstate critical funding to ensure patients have continued access to high quality cancer care. ■