For Response to Inquiries
Thursday, January 29, 1998
NCI Press Office
Vice President Gore Announces Historic Cancer Initiative
- A historic $4.7 billion increase in spending in cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a 65 percent increase over the next five years; and
- A groundbreaking initiative mat explicitly provides coverage of cancer clinical trials for Medicare beneficiaries.
More than 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and
more than 20 percent will die from it. While scientists have made important strides in cancer,
particularly in childhood cancers, experts believe that we are at the cusp of important new
breakthroughs in the war against cancer that merit or justify a much greater investment in
research that could lead to help better diagnose, prevent, treat, and potentially cure cancer.
Less than 3 percent of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. Americans over the
age of 65 make up half of all cancer patients, and are 10 times more likely to get cancer
than younger Americans. Many scientists believe that higher participation in clinical trials
could lead to faster development of therapies for more of those in need, as it often takes
between three and five years to enroll enough participants in a cancer clinical trial to make the
results scientifically legitimate and statistically meaningful. Furthermore, older Americans
frequently cannot participate in cutting edge cancer clinical trials because Medicare does not pay
for such treatments until they are established as standard therapies.
Historic Increases in Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health. The Vice
President announced a 65 percent increase in funding for cancer research at the NIH over the
next five years. This is part of the President's proposal for an unprecedented $1.15 billion
increase at the NIH in FY l999 and a nearly 50 percent increase over the next five years.
- Unprecedented new investment of $4.7 billion in cancer research over five years.
In 1999 alone, the Administration is proposing a 10 percent increase in cancer research by 2003, the NIH will spend $4.8 billion on cancer research. A significant and new increase in research has great potential to improve early detection and diagnoses of cancer; speed the discovery and development of new cancer drugs and devices; dramatically increase adult participation in clinical trials; and provide all cancer patients and their care givers with easy access to the latest information on treating their disease.
- Investment will support cancer research throughout the NIH. Almost 90 percent of the cancer research money will be supported at the National Cancer Institute, but the initiative will also involve new and enhanced activities in at least 12 other Institutes of the NIH, such as the Human Genome Project.
Coverage of Cancer Clinical Trials for Medicare Beneficiaries. The Vice President also
announced that, for the first time, Medicare beneficiaries would be able to have the patient
care costs associated with cancer clinical trials explicitly covered through a new demonstration.
This would give Medicare beneficiaries access to cutting-edge treatments and encourage higher
participation in clinical trials.
- Gives Medicare beneficiaries access to cancer clinical trials. The Administration's proposal would establish a three-year demonstration program for Medicare beneficiaries, to cover the patient care costs for those who participate in certain federally-sponsored cancer clinical trials. The proposal is based on NIH-sponsored clinical trials but will allow for determination of the eligibility of an alternative set of trials by the Secretary of Health and Human Services within the same funding constraints, with the advice of the Institute of Medicine's National Cancer Policy Board. The President's budget would establish a three-year demonstration program, specifically for Medicare beneficiaries, to cover the patient care costs for those who participate in NIH sponsored cancer clinical trials.
- Administered through HCFA for Medicare beneficiaries, but has no impact on the Medicare Trust Fund. The demonstration would be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration, which administers Medicare, but would be funded by $750 million in receipts from tobacco legislation. It would therefore have no effect the financial condition on the Medica: Trust Fund. The proposal includes a review and evaluation of the demonstration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Institute of Medicine's National Cancer Policy Board, to consider whether to extend and/or expand the demonstration, no later than 30 months after enactment.
- Builds on the bipartisan legislation in the Congress. Senator Mack and Senator Rockefeller and Representative Nancy Johnson have taking leadership in this area by proposing similar legislation that would provide cancer clinical trial coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. The Administration looks forward to working closely with these leaders, as well as other Members of Congress, on this important issue.