Counting Veterans' Cancer Act Passes U.S. Senate
A long-standing legislative priority of NCRA, the Counting Veterans' Cancer Act of 2023, passed the United States Senate on November 1, 2023.
The bipartisan bill, was sponsored by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) in the form of an amendment to the Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, HR 4366--the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
The Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act of 2023 seeks to improve veterans care by requiring all data on veterans diagnosed with cancer to be reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs to central cancer registries, which will allow for identifying and improving cancer-related needs of veterans, and increasing opportunities for veterans with cancer to be included in clinical trials, cancer-related research, and analysis.
NCRA's advocacy work for this bill included meetings with Senate offices to identify potential Republican co-sponsors during April 2022's Walk on the Hill, 11 zoom meetings in September of this year with offices of members of the Senate Veterans affairs committee, including the Chairman, Senator John Tester (D-MT), as well as facilitating hundreds of emails from NCRA members in 42 states in support of the bill. Thanks to the hundreds of dedicated NCRA members whose persistence got us to this point!
The next step is for a House-Senate conference committee to consider our amendment to H.R. 4366 along with other amendments adopted by the Senate. If the conference committee agrees to accept the Counting Veterans' Cancer Act language, it would still require another vote in both the Senate and House to accept the final bill's wording and send it to President Biden for his signature.
In the meantime, NCRA is working with Senator Kelly's office to seek bipartisan support in the House of Representatives for a House version of the original bill in case our amendment and the final version of HR 4366 does not advance. Though this is a long process, it is not a unique one. It is not unusual for bills to advance as amendments to appropriations acts, particularly when organizations build support through bipartisan grassroots efforts like NCRA's advocacy campaign.
NCRA takes an active role in advocating on behalf of cancer registrars and registries. The role of cancer registrars and the cancer registry system is one of the most fundamental ways public health professionals, physicians, and researchers understand and address cancer.
One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) is a collaboration of national non-profit organizations representing millions of Americans, delivering a unified message to Congress and the White House on the need for increased cancer-related appropriations. NCRA is an active member of OVAC, representing the role and importance of cancer registrars and registries.
Thursday, April 7, 2022
Thanks to the more than 40 NCRA members who participated in our April 7 'Walk on the Hill' by meeting with 67 congressional offices! Held in conjunction with our educational conference, the meetings provided members of congress and their staffs a chance to learn more about cancer registries and registrars. Both in-person and virtual meetings were essential in outlining our current priorities.
Immediately following this DC area event, NCRA opened up the opportunity for the full membership to get engaged through our April 18-29 Advocacy Now campaign. This was a first for NCRA where we developed an easy process for our members to send specific letters to their members of Congress. For this event 419 NCRA members participated which resulted in nearly 1200 letters sent to Congress in support of NCRA’s funding and policy priorities!
Specifically, NCRA members discussed the need for adequate funding for a Cancer Surveillance Cloud Computing Platform as part of the need for an increased budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. as well as increased appropriations for the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
We also promoted the forthcoming Counting Veterans' Cancer Act that will require complete reporting of cases treated at Veterans Administration medical facilities to central cancer registries. According to 2017 data from the CDC, an estimated 26,500 cancer cases among veterans were not reported to state cancer registries funded through the National Program of Cancer Registries. Federal law requires CDC and NCI to collect cancer data for all newly diagnosed cancer cases, but that cannot be achieved due to frequent lack of reporting by the Department of Veterans' Affairs facilities.
Recognizing NCRA’s work with its strategic partners requires timely communications with members, NCRA has established the e-brief to highlight key updates and news from its work with industry partners.
The content covered will be from NCRA’s formal liaisons to partner organizations and Adam Ebbin, NCRA’s Public Policy and Strategy Consultant. NCRA may also include information from its federal partners at the CDC and NCI on occasion.
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Cancer registrars are data information specialists that capture a complete history, diagnosis, treatment, and health status for every cancer patient in the U.S. The curated data provides essential information to researchers, healthcare providers, and public health officials to better monitor and advance cancer treatments, conduct research, and improve cancer prevention and screening programs. Learn more about how to become a cancer registrar and how cancer registry data is used to improve public health.
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