important for the federal government
to invest in research.
I myself have had three very close
family members who have had cancer.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer
back in the mid-1960s, when I was just
three or four years old. I was too young
to remember much, but her treatment
at the University of Pennsylvania was
successful, and we recently celebrated
her 88th birthday.
My father-in-law and brother-in-law were not so fortunate. My father-in-law passed away from melanoma
in January 2005, the day before I was
sworn in to Congress for the first time.
He had been diagnosed with metastatic
melanoma just six months earlier, after
having beaten it many years earlier. This
experience deeply affected my family,
and we are very careful to follow skin
cancer prevention recommendations
and be aware of sun exposure.
My brother-in-law passed away from
colon cancer in February 2010. He was
just 45 years old. My sister and their
two young girls were devastated. This
experience made me passionate about
increasing awareness of and removing
barriers to colorectal cancer screening,
because we know that early detection
improves outcomes. That is why the
“Removing Barriers to Colorectal
Cancer Screening Act of 2017,” which
I am sponsoring with Congressman
Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), is very
important to me. If enacted, this new
legislation would remove a barrier to
colorectal cancer screening for Medicare
beneficiaries. At present, Medicare will
not pay the copay for the removal of
a polyp(s) during a colorectal cancer
screening colonoscopy. By eliminating
this potential cost, we hope to increase
the number of Medicare beneficiaries
who undergo screening.
The experiences of my family
members have also made me passionate
about the work that I have done and
continue to do as a member of the U.S.
House of Representatives Committee
on Appropriations. During the last
session of Congress, when I served
on the Labor, Health and Human
Services, Education, and Related
Agencies Subcommittee—which is
the subcommittee that appropriates
funds to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH)—I am proud to say that
we made funding medical research a
high priority. We raised funding for
the NIH by $2 billion in both fiscal year
2016 and fiscal year 2017.
These increases are critical because
the NIH plays a vital role in improving
the health and well-being of people
worldwide. The basic scientific and
medical research funded by the federal
government through the monies
it appropriates to the NIH, drives
discovery and the development of
new therapies and even cures. Federal
investment in the NIH also improves
the economic well-being of our nation
and maintains America’s leadership in
the life sciences.
The work of the Appropriations
Committee complements other
legislative efforts that I have been
involved with to expedite the
development and approval of lifesaving
therapies for people with cancer. I
worked closely with Congressman Fred
Upton (R-MI) on the 21st Century Cures
Act, which provides a mechanism for
supporting the Beau Biden Cancer
Moonshot Initiative. This is such an
exciting time; we have already made a
lot of progress against cancer, and we
as a country must do the right thing.
I am committed to ensuring that the
federal government will provide the
money needed for us to do better.
© AACR/Karen Sayre
" The basic scientific and medical research funded by the
federal government through the monies it appropriates
to the NIH, drives discovery and the development
of new therapies and even cures. "