Last week, our country elected President Barrack Obama to a second term as President, the entire US House of Representatives and 1/3 of the US Senate. These newly elected officials – some new and some returning – will be sworn in early in 2013 and begin the business of governing our country.
The balance of power will remain almost exactly the same. This likely means that the President’s Affordable Care Act will continue to be enacted and in full effect in 2014, with states, insurers, providers and individuals moving forward in this process with certainty that the law will stand. States will play a major role in creating their insurance plans, determining minimum benefits coverage and setting up insurance exchanges; as a result, the many gubernatorial and state legislative elections will have an impact on new health care laws as well.
Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research will continue to go forward under a rigorous policy of review and oversight put in place by the National Institutes of Health. The Supreme Court is currently deciding if it will hear a challenge to the funding guidelines, but pending a decision by the high court, it too will continue forward.
Perhaps the most urgent issue that Congress will need to address will be the fiscal cliff. These debates are already underway. The fiscal cliff refers to the effect of a series of enacted bills at the Federal level which, if unchanged, will result in tax increases, spending cuts, and a corresponding reduction in the budget deficit at the end of 2012. And while deficit reduction is a necessity, there is widespread concern about the major impact that this situation could have on the economy and on individuals. Congress and the President have largely postponed acting to address this issue until after the outcome of the election, and there is division among political pundits about how and if our lawmakers will deal with this looming crisis. This fiscal cliff and Congressional activity related to sequestration will have a major impact on medical research funding in this country – an impact that may have a very significant negative impact on cancer research and prevention.
Congress has returned to a lame duck session this week to address many undecided funding and budgetary issues. Newly elected Members of Congress have also come to Washington, DC this week for orientation to their new roles. Whether you are represented in the House and Senate by new or old Members, it is essential that you make your voices heard on these and other policy issues.
For more information, visit Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Advocacy Action Center.