Kick the Can...redux?

With only a week to go before the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution (CR), there are unconfirmed reports that both sides of the aisle are inching towards a short term deal. There are discussions and rumors of a new $100 billion increase in spending caps along with a another Continuing Resolution until sometime in late February. Thorny issues that tangle the negotiations are immigration (DACA) agreements surrounding the "Dreamers", the CHIP program, border security, and several other issues. Many from both parties are unhappy, principally appropriators, the defense community and the military. Stand by for a deal at the 11th hour (perhaps no later than Wednesday, January 17th) or a government shutdown will occur late Friday, January 19th. Stay tuned.

A new year - 2018 - Advocacy News Update

  • Prior to adjourning for the holidays, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) for this fiscal year (FY 2018) to keep funding the government (at least until January 19th). The FY 18 fiscal year that began on October 1, 2017.
  • Capitol Hill will be bustling with activity where Members of Congress will be returning to a several unfinished issues. Many of these issues, including finalizing the FY 2018 appropriations process, will need to be resolved by January 19th in order to avert a possible government shutdown. 
  • Hopefully, the beginning of 2018 will involve House and Senate leaders coming together to finalize a bipartisan budget agreement.  An agreement should lay the groundwork for an “omnibus” appropriations bill to fund federal agencies for the rest of the FY 2018.
  • Policymakers are increasingly under pressure to reach a deal to increase the budget caps (for both defense and non-defense discretionary accounts) in order to prevent the automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, that were put into place under a 2011 deficit-cutting law.
  • While Congressional leadership, as well as the White House, have been negotiating behind closed doors for weeks trying to lock down a two-year budget agreement that would cover the rest of the 2018 fiscal year, as well as fiscal 2019, an overall deal has remained elusive. Both parties agree that the spending caps should be raised, but they disagree over how much. Additionally, Democrats are insisting on matching any defense increase dollar-for-dollar with nondefense increases -- a formula that many Republicans reject.
  • We believe there is strong bipartisan support from our nation’s policymakers to provide the Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP) within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) with another $10 million in research funding, as well as the NIH with another $2 billion increase in FY 2018.
  • There are also many issues that are going to be part of the negotiations between now and January 19, including:
    • some measures to stabilize ObamaCare; 
    • DACA or “Dreamers” protections;
    • additional disaster relief for hurricane and wildfire victims; and
    • funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beyond March. 
    • (Thank you to the AACR for providing information included in this update)

Dr. Ned Sharpless, NCI Director and OVAC (One Voice Against Cancer) Legislative Annual Meeting

Representatives from over 30 cancer advocacy organizations participated in the OVAC planning discussion this past Friday, Dec. 15th.  It was also a pleasure to hear from NCI Director Dr. Ned Sharpless early in his tenure as newly appointed Director of the NCI (National Cancer Institute) at the NIH (National Institutes of Health).  Dr. Sharpless is  passionate about cancer research and OVAC members had a unique opportunity to hear of his priorities moving forward in 2018 and beyond.  KCAN will continue to look for ways in which we as a coalition can work with Dr. Sharpless and his staff to highlight the important work being done at NCI.

Although Congress’ work on the FY 2018 appropriations are not yet complete, OVAC members made good progress discussing our FY 2019 appropriations requests.  However, we did make some key initial decisions should Congress complete a budget deal and pass an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2018.  Moreover, based on our discussion we are making an addition to our advocacy agenda:

  • Although we do not have the final numbers for NIH and NCI, there was consensus that OVAC will pursue a $2 billion increase for NIH plus CURES funding ($215M) for FY2019.  OVAC will pursue a proportional increase for NCI based upon final FY 2018 numbers when they become available.
  • For the CDC DCPC programs in FY 2019, OVAC will continue to request the same levels as in FY 2018. Funding levels for the HRSA Title VIII Nursing Programs as well as FDA are still to be determined.
  • There was consensus that OVAC express support for the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE) for $15 million within our appropriations narrative. 
  • Our Labor-HHS (Health and Human Services) requests will continue to be a priority for the coalition and the focus of our advocacy days, however, we will continue to find advocacy opportunities for our non-Labor-HHS requests including the CDMRP and FDA OCE.

Holidays, Government shutdown?, Senate Election in Alabama, and Taxes

The government gave itself a two week extension to get some matters concluded prior to the holiday break and year end.

On Dec. 7, House and Senate lawmakers approved H.J. Res 123, a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through Dec. 22. The president signed the CR on Dec. 8. The CR modifies the expiration date of the previous CR (P.L. 115-56) from Dec. 8 to Dec. 22, so all provisions in the previous CR, carry forward. The two week extension is meant to provide additional time for congressional leadership to negotiate.

Many Americans are watching to see what transpires in the Senate race in Alabama. Polls open Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Regarding tax news, you may feel like you are caught in a game of hurry up and wait while the House and Senate work out their compromise tax bill. Like many Americans, you’re probably wondering what deductions will be in or out. And which tax rate you might fall under when all is said and done.

The compromise committee set up to work out the details of a unified bill aims to finish its work by December 15 and bring it to the full House for a vote during the week of December 18. The Senate is expected to vote by December 22. If a bill is passed this year—and that is looking increasingly likely--many of its provisions will take effect on January 1. (source ML news 2017)

Workshop at NIH - Adjuvant Kidney Cancer Trials

I attended a workshop at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD with a number of kidney cancer oncologists, surgeons, FDA representatives, National Cancer Institute staff (NCI), Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO), and several industry and patient advocates. The following is some background information:

Background:

The FDA, NCI, and SUO have agreed to joint development of a public workshop that may improve the conduct of adjuvant clinical trials in bladder cancer and kidney cancer by harmonizing definitions and management of disease recurrence. Currently, no standard definition of disease recurrence is used in these adjuvant trials. Standard practices would generate consistency and facilitate interpretation of trial results. This joint venture will enable the oncology community to combine its resources and knowledge to optimize clinical trial utility and efficiency to better serve our patients.

Goals and Objectives:

  • To standardize definitions of disease recurrence for use in bladder and kidney cancer adjuvant trials
  • To develop methods for managing disease recurrence in patients on adjuvant bladder and kidney cancer adjuvant trials
  • To discuss clinical trial and research designs with the goal of generating consistency among clinical trials in the adjuvant bladder and kidney cancer setting
  • To define common goals and methods for these adjuvant trials in the form of a potential guidance document

For more detailed information you can go here:  https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/NewsEvents/ucm574531.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

 

RESOURCE: Congressional Briefing Panelist Slide Decks

After an engaging and informative discussion at our October 12th event, we wanted to share our panelists PowerPoint slide decks. Whether you attended and want to re-visit some of the discussion points, or were not able to join us on Capitol Hill, you can find each of the four slide decks below. Many thanks to our speakers for allowing us to share their slides!

Michael B. Atkins, M.D..png

Michael B. Atkins, M.D.

Carolyn Best, PhD.png

Carolyn Best, PhD

Jay Bitkower.png

Jay Bitkower

Mohamad E. Allaf, MD.png

Mohamad Allaf, M.D.

RECAP: Congressional Briefing Event - Part 1

Thank you to all who attended the congressional briefing on Capitol Hill last Thursday, October 12th. Below are a few photos from the event. Please stay tuned here on our blog for a full recap of the event, including more photos and downloadable slide decks from each of our panelists.

 

KCAN at the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Kidney Cancer Symposium

On September 15th, KCAN joined patients, family members, caregivers, and doctors in Newton, Massachusetts at the 10th Annual Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Kidney Cancer Symposium.

Our founder, Bryan Lewis, concluded the third session of the day with a presentation about KCAN's mission and goals. Click here or use the button below to watch the entire third session and see Bryan's presentation at the one hour and thirty minute mark (1:30). 

KCAN Founder Bryan Lewis speaking at the 10th Annual Dana Farber/HCC Kidney Cancer Symposium

KCAN Founder Bryan Lewis speaking at the 10th Annual Dana Farber/HCC Kidney Cancer Symposium