Dear Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole,
As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we write to express our support for increased funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Cancer is a relentless disease that impacts millions of Americans. Just this year more than 1.7 million people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, and over 600,000 Americans will die from the disease. Cancer not only impacts individuals and families across the country, but it also costs our economy more than $216 billion annually in direct treatment costs and lost productivity.
But there is hope. Because of the previous congressional investment in cancer research, more than 15.5 million American cancer survivors are alive today, and we are enjoying a quarter century of sustained declines in cancer mortality. As of 2016, the cancer death rate for men and women combined has fallen 27 percent from its peak in 1991. This decline translates to about 1.5 percent per year and more than 2.6 million deaths avoided between 1991 and 2016.
We have made significant progress to reduce the loss of purchasing power experienced by the NCI since Fiscal Year 2003, which marked the end of the five-year doubling of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With increases in federal investment in medical research over the last four fiscal years and the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act that included funding for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, Congress has demonstrated its bipartisan support for cancer research. However, Moonshot funding is a small percentage of NCI's total budget, and in Fiscal Year 2020 the funding going to NCI for this initiative will be cut by just over half from $400 million in 2019 to $195 million in 2020. Even counting the Moonshot, NCI's budget lags 15.6 percent, or $1.1 billion, below what it would have been if funding had kept pace with biomedical inflation since 2003.
To continue the progress that has led to medical breakthroughs for treatment and therapies for millions of cancer patients, the NCI needs an increased, sustainable federal investment. Therefore, Congress should provide at least $6.522 billion in overall funding for the National Cancer Institute in Fiscal Year 2020.
Thank you for your consideration of our request to provide critical funding for this life-saving research.