Over the last several weeks, it has been hard to ignore the bickering in Washington. Heated arguments, legislative stall tactics, endless rounds of the blame game. The government has now shut down because Congress and the Administration can’t agree on a spending bill to fund the government or whether to modify the healthcare reform law (even though implementation is underway). It has become the perfect storm of new battles and old battles.
To the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the most concerning aspect of the shutdown is the impact to cancer patients and research. Enrollment in clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has stopped for all but a select few. Patients who are desperate to begin alternative treatment options are now faced with unnecessary delays. Michelle Langbehn, a sarcoma patient diagnosed soon after her daughter was born, recently told the Washington Post her enrollment in a clinical trial is on hold because of the shutdown. In addition, research in NIH labs has been halted after thousands of workers were sent home without pay. Important cancer control programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also ceased, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reduced safety and compliance activities.
Lives are at stake. Advancements in cancer care are at risk. People should be outraged.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation joined with members from One Voice Against Cancer and the Cancer Leadership Council on letters to Congressional leaders about the harmful impact of the shutdown to cancer treatment and research, and we will continue to insist a way forward is found.
Barry Black, the U.S. Senate chaplain, noted there is a damaging hypocrisy in “attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.” The 14 million people affected by cancer expect our nation’s leaders to be reasonable.
If your cancer care has been impacted because of the government shutdown, we want to know. Please provide comments to this blog post or on the LIVESTRONG Foundation Facebook page.