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Breast Cancer is a Political Issue

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/03/2016 Fran Visco

The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) wants to know what the candidates for President of the United States will do to end breast cancer. And we want you to know, also. Breast cancer is a political issue. Every aspect of breast cancer is touched by public policy. Since NBCC's inception in 1991, we have been the leading political activists on breast cancer issues. From increasing the amount of breast cancer research funding to ensuring better access to treatment, NBCC has successfully challenged our federal officials to play a role in ending breast cancer.
Breast cancer should be at the forefront of the national political agenda because, despite years of work and billions of dollars dedicated to awareness and research, there has not been much progress. Women have a one in eight lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, up from one in eleven in 1975. We lost 43,583 women to breast cancer in 1991 in the U.S., and we will lose more than 40,000 women and 400 men to breast cancer this year. Clearly, we have a lot to do to know what causes breast cancer, how to prevent breast cancer and how to keep it from taking more lives. We will continue to lead those efforts, and it is time for the presidential candidates to join us.
We want the candidates to know what must be done to end breast cancer, and we want to know if they are willing to do the hard work necessary to get there. In 2010, NBCC launched Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, a call to action for policymakers, researchers, breast cancer advocates and other stakeholders to know how to end this disease by January 1, 2020. In order to achieve this goal, we need to implement an entirely new approach to the way we think and talk about research and breast cancer. We must change the conversation about breast cancer everywhere--in our communities, in research labs, in doctors' offices, in Congress and in the White House.
This week, NBCC recognized the 2016 Presidential Candidates who have already endorsed Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 and invited the candidates who have not yet endorsed to do so as part of the launch of Breast Cancer Caucus, our public policy organizing and advocacy effort around the 2016 Presidential Election.
For months, NBCC advocates living in primary states have collected endorsements of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 and took every opportunity to educate candidates and ask them to support our agenda. As of this week, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate John Kasich have endorsed Deadline 2020. Before suspending their campaigns, Republican candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal, as well as Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley, also endorsed the deadline. Visit our website to learn more about the support we have so far and to view videos of advocates urging candidates to support our goals.
NBCC also sent a questionnaire to every candidate asking, beyond endorsing Breast Cancer Deadline 2020, that they further articulate their support for knowing how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. Specifically, we are focused on four things:

  1. Breast Cancer Deadline 2020: In Congress, our number one legislative priority is the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act, which would establish the Presidential Commission to Accelerate the End of Breast Cancer, bringing together representatives from a wide variety of disciplines, including advocates, to leverage existing resources by identifying the tools, technology and ideas resulting from this nation's prior investments and that, through collaboration, could have a major effect on ending breast cancer and saving lives. We want to know from every candidate: If elected, as President, will you work with Congress to fulfill the mission and goals of the Commission?
  2. Full funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP): As a result of NBCC's grassroots advocacy, the DOD BCRP was created in 1992 to "eradicate breast cancer by funding innovative, high-impact research through a partnership of scientists and consumers." The DOD BCRP is innovative not only because of the unique research that it funds, but also because the program is transparent, efficient and flexible. We want to know from every candidate: If elected, will you support continuation of this program and encourage Congress to restore the DOD BCRP to level funding?
  3. Guaranteed Access to Quality Care for All: Ensuring access to quality, evidence-based health care has been a top priority of NBCC for many years and is an essential component of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020. NBCC supports legislative efforts that improve access to quality health care for individuals with, and at risk of, breast cancer. In addition, NBCC remains committed to protecting vital existing programs, such as the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. We want to know from every candidate: If elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to quality, evidence-based health care? How will these actions assist the 230,000 Americans who are expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year?
  4. Ensuring the Participation of Educated Patient Advocates in all Levels of Health Care Decision Making: NBCC defines educated patient advocates as: individuals who represent a patient-led, patient centered organization with a patient constituency; have been personally affected by breast cancer; and are trained, knowledgeable, and prepared to participate in the decision making process of science and medicine. NBCC continues to work to ensure that educated patient advocates with a constituency, have a "seat at the table" in all levels of health care decision making that affects their lives. We want to know from every candidate: If elected, will you support continued efforts to include trained patient advocates in all federal health care decision making?

We have asked every candidate to support Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 and related public policy priorities, and we will hold them to it. NBCC activists are once again ready to push for the initiatives needed in order to achieve our goal of knowing how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. We invite you to help us by joining Breast Cancer Caucus today.

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