Congressional Corner: By Representative Nick Rahall (WVA)

Congressional Corner: By Representative Nick Rahall (WVA)

Let’s Commit to a Cure for Cancer

 As a cancer survivor, I know first-hand the consequences this deadly disease can bring to a person and their loved ones.  This is why I believe cancer treatment and research should be pre-eminent national priorities for the United States, and we should all re-affirm our commitment to the elimination of cancer in this lifetime.

According to the American Cancer Society, 3 out of 4 cancers are found in people aged 55 or older.  Once a patient receives the diagnosis of cancer a number of concerns and fears run through the mind, but one fear that patients shouldn’t have to face is whether or not their treatment will be covered.

That is why I am co-sponsoring H.R. 1844, the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act. This legislation would provide for coverage of comprehensive cancer care planning under Medicare and would improve the care furnished to individuals diagnosed with cancer by establishing a Medicare Hospice Care Demonstration program and grants program.

By providing grants to help improve the quality of graduate and postgraduate training of physicians, nurses and other health care providers, we as a Congress help to ensure that the Nation has the medical workforce and training necessary to treat the estimated 1.5 million new cancer cases that will be diagnosed in 2009.

I believe that by working together in a bipartisan fashion, Congress can find a way to advance legislation, such as H.R. 1844, that will help ensure those 1.5 million patients will get the comprehensive care they need.

Another important component in the fight against cancer care is early detection through prevention and wellness.  First, we must each educate ourselves on the current screenings and tests available in our communities and, second, we must talk to our friends and loved ones about cancer prevention.  Screening for most cancers is quick and easy and can often be performed in your physician’s office.  Raising awareness in all people, regardless of age, saves lives.

Already, the 111th Congress, with my support, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), has committed nearly $59 billion to healthcare, including $1 billion for prevention and wellness and $8.2 billion in support of scientific research priorities through the National Institutes of Health.  Who knows how close to a cure for cancer this research may bring us, but each advancement made in this fight is a step in the right direction.

Increasing the importance of early detection, supporting research that can save lives, and improving access to cancer treatments in rural America are the building blocks that will help us bridge the gap between treatment and a cure.