National Breast Cancer Coalition Ask Candidates Questions
Breast Cancer is a political issue. The majority of research dollars come from the federal government, hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the world-wide scientific community. How many millions is a decision made by our elected officials. Medicare and Medicaid coverage decisions, often followed by private insurers, are a government function. Approval of new drugs, policies to expand health care - these are issues that are rooted in government and controlled by individuals we elect. And we once again have the opportunity to make certain these issues are at the forefront of the election campaign for our next president.
Although it is more than a year before Election Day, the 2008 Presidential race is well underway. As we have done in every presidential campaign since our founding, the National Breast Cancer Coalition is planning to be heard in this campaign season. There was a time when breast cancer was rarely mentioned in public, let alone the halls of Congress, and when federal funding for breast cancer research was a pittance and access to care was not discussed.
It took the National Breast Cancer Coalition to make a real change starting with our Do The Write Thing and $300 Million More campaigns that spurred a dramatic increase in federal funding for breast cancer research. It took our demanding access to care for uninsured women and our lobbying efforts to successfully push Congress to pass the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) in 2000, and expand access to health care for thousands of underserved women.
Each year our annual Lobby Day includes more than 400 meetings between NBCC advocates and Congressional leaders and their staff. A University of Chicago survey recognized us as one of the top 25 most influential groups in national health policy. At the end of every Congressional Session, we issue a Congressional Record of Support describing the actions we asked members of Congress to take on each of our priority issues, highlighting exactly where each member stands.
In past presidential campaigns we produced a breast cancer platform, conducted voter registration drives and published candidates' responses to our questions. We educated the candidates on the real issues in breast cancer research and access to care, and educated the voters as well.
This election season will be no different. We are now launching our 2008 presidential campaign program, the Breast Cancer Caucus. Our campaign has several components: asking every candidate to support a breast cancer public policy platform; educating our grassroots base on the candidates' positions on NBCC's legislative and public policy priorities; and voter registration drives, including a voter pledge to consider candidates' position on NBCC priorities.
The candidates need to answer some important questions for us. First: "What would you do as President to eradicate breast cancer?" We also want to know their position on each of NBCC's legislative and public policy priorities. Specifically:
1. Where do you stand on guaranteed access to quality health care for all?
All men, women and children must have guaranteed access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay. NBCC is pursuing legislation that meets these principles for access to care.
2. Where do you stand on ensuring $150 million for the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program?
Launched in 1992 in response to NBCC's campaign for increased federal funding, this unique research program funds innovative grants within a structure that brings scientists and consumers together in making policy decisions at all levels.
3. Where do you stand on the enactment of the Breast Cancer Environmental Research Act (S. 579/H.R. 1157)?
This legislation will establish a national strategy to study the role that the environment plays in the development of breast cancer, through competitive peer reviewed NIH grants.
4. Where do you stand on the preservation of the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program?
NBCC's advocacy resulted in passage of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act, which expanded access to treatment for thousands of underserved women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through federal screening programs.
NBCC has already contacted the candidates to get their written responses to these questions. We also asked that they include their health care proposals that address our top priority of guaranteed access to quality health care for all. We will post their answers on our website in October. Please visit http://www.stopbreastcancer.org/ to check their answers and learn you can participate in NBCC's other election related efforts. The results of the 2008 elections may have dramatic implications on the fight against breast cancer. Stay tuned to this blog for more developments.
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