ASCO Advocates on Capitol Hill and Across the Country Urge Congressional Action on Drug Shortages, Research Funding, Telehealth

April 19, 2024

Volunteers from the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) were on Capitol Hill on April 17 for the 2024 ASCO Advocacy Summit where they met with lawmakers to discuss critical issues in cancer care and research. During the event, more than 170 advocates from 48 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico met with more than 200 congressional offices.

The Advocacy Summit was accompanied by a broader Week of Action, during which ASCO advocates from across the country sent almost 1,000 messages to Members of Congress through the ACT Network. The Hill meetings and messages urge lawmakers to act on key policy priorities, including:

  • Helping to end drug shortages by acting to address the economic factors that drive generic manufacturers out of the market, rewarding reliable U.S. manufacturing of critical and supportive medications, recognizing potential shortages earlier by increasing the Food and Drug Administration’s visibility into the supply chain, and relaying information about potential shortages to health systems and providers earlier to help them prepare for and mitigate possible supply challenges.
  • Supporting federally funded cancer research by providing robust funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency Health for fiscal year 2025.
  • Permanently expanding telehealth flexibilities in Medicare by cosponsoring the CONNECT for Health Act (S. 2016 / H.R. 4189). The bill would permanently extend the telehealth flexibilities put in place for Medicare services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and have been extended by Congress till the end of 2024.

Participants received training on how to have effective Congressional meetings prior to their day on the Hill and were treated to a keynote address from ophthalmologist, comedian, and cancer survivor Dr. Glaucomflecken (William Flanary, M.D.). Additionally, the ASCO Association PAC held a reception, at which contributors mingled with seven bipartisan lawmakers and Dr. Prasanth Reddy (KS), an oncologist running for Congress. The PAC received contributions from 70% of summit attendees (an increase of 16% compared to the 2023 Advocacy Summit).

ASCO also presented the “Congressional Champion for Cancer Care Award” to Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) during the event for their ongoing commitment to funding cancer research. The “Advocate of the Year” award was presented to Jason Westin, MD, MS, FACP, of Houston, TX, for his commitment to advocacy on behalf of his patients and profession.

Advocates marked being on the Hill by posting images, threads, and updates on social media sharing their experiences, explaining why these advocacy priorities matter to the cancer community, and making their voices heard on behalf of patients with cancer and their providers. The Association also launched a new campaign highlighting the severe impact of the cancer drug shortages crisis and urging swift action from lawmakers during the event.

ASCO’s advocacy efforts are year-round! ASCO members in the U.S. are encouraged to send messages to their elected officials urging them to support improved access to cancer care and research through the ACT Network. ASCO members can also participate in ASCO’s Advocacy at Home program, which provides advocates with opportunities to meet their lawmakers locally.

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