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Higgins Meets with President Obama on Health Care

Jun 9, 2009
Press Release

Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and a number of other members of the House Ways and Means Committee met with President Obama in the State Dining Room at the White House to discuss the future of health care in the United States.

In the coming weeks Congressman Higgins will be working with his colleagues to advance a plan to provide universal health care for Americans.  There are currently 47 million people in the U.S. who are uninsured.  In New York, 2.5 million are uninsured, 80% of which are working but simply can’t afford the cost of quality health care

During the meeting with the President, Higgins discussed the role health care reform will play in improving cancer care, “Connecting cancer patients with affordable, cutting-edge health care will save lives,” said Congressman Higgins.  “Each day about 1,500 people in the U.S. die from cancer and another 3,400 people are diagnosed with cancer.  Again and again I hear stories of cancer patients delaying or declining the best treatments available because they simply can’t afford it.  In this nation of great opportunity every cancer patient deserves a fighting chance to beat the disease and heath care reform can give us that opportunity.”

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network recently released a poll of 1,000 people who are living with someone with a history of cancer that found:

  • of the families with someone under age 65 suffering from cancer, 1 in 3 say that    person has been uninsured at some point since their cancer diagnosis;
  • 4 in 10 families say paying for health care costs for the person with cancer has been difficult in the last two years; 
  • 1 in 4 people who have had a cancer diagnosis has had to put off health care in the past year; 
  • 1 in 5 has used up all or most of their savings because of health care costs; 
  • and 1 in 7 has incurred thousands of dollars in medical debt. 

Earlier this morning Congressman Higgins also addressed a crowd of over 200 national cancer advocates attending the One Voice Against Cancer Rally in the Washington, DC area.  One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) is a coalition of nearly 40 cancer-related organizations, representing millions of Americans, advocating for increased national funding for cancer research and treatment.  

“Insurance is not keeping up with science,” said Higgins, who recently introduced the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (HR 2366), a bill designed to make access to “Smart Drugs” easier & more affordable. 

Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus, has been a vocal advocate for increased national funding for cancer research.  Earlier this year Congress approved a budget that would allow the beginning of a doubling in cancer research funding, demonstrating a new and long overdue commitment to this cause.   “Our Nation’s budget is not just a spending plan, it is a statement of America’s values - and I don't think there's a more important statement than that made relating to cancer in this years budget,” said Higgins.