Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. S. Res. 703 was introduced by Sens. Todd Young, R-IN, and Joe Donnelly, D-IN, expressing support for the goals and ideas of “Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.” Rep. Susan Brooks, R-IN, introduced a similar resolution in the House (H.Res. 1148). Sen. Young’s office reached out to AGA to garner our support for the resolution which recognizes the need to increase research and diagnostics for stomach cancer. Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide yet the five-year survival rate is only 31 percent. AGA appreciates Sen. Young and the entire Indiana delegation for their leadership in raising awareness on stomach disease and the need for more research to better understand this deadly cancer.
Lame duck session. Congress returned after the Thanksgiving break to resume their lame duck session of Congress. On their agenda is completing the remaining fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills, which includes funding for the FDA. Debate over funding for President Trump’s wall could result in a government shutdown if a final deal is not reached by Dec. 7.
Step therapy advocacy for Medicare beneficiaries. AGA and other medical specialty societies have met with 15 congressional offices during the lame duck session to advocate for greater oversight and protections for Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. MA plans are moving forward to implement step therapy protocols in MA plans on Jan. 1, 2019, reversing a 2012 Obama Administration memo that prohibited the practice. AGA and medical specialty societies are concerned that the Trump proposal lacks adequate protections for patients who are stable on medications and could be harmed if they are forced to switch medications or required to fail other medications before being covered by the physician recommended therapy. Stay tuned for ways you can help advocate to protect patients.