American Association for Cancer Research

Health Care Reform & Cancer Research

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The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, addresses specific priorities for the cancer research community and has opened the door to new opportunities.

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Prevents insurance companies from denying cancer patients participation in clinical trials or denying coverage of routine medical services clinical trial participants would otherwise be provided; covers all clinical trial stages for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Implemented in 2010


The development of new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat cancer depends upon a robust clinical trial system. Unfortunately, fewer than 5 percent of adults with cancer each year will participate in a clinical trial. This provision will remove a major barrier to participation and allow more patients to enroll.


Established an independent nonprofit center, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), to conduct and oversee research that compares the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments. Research findings are prohibited from being construed as guidance for payment, coverage or treatment.

Appropriated funding began in FY2010


By helping researchers to identify, and clinicians and patients to better predict which interventions will deliver the best treatment to the right patients, the results of comparative effectiveness research studies can improve patient outcomes while improving overall health care value.


Elevated the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to "institute" status within the NIH, giving it more authority to better coordinate and manage minority health and health disparities research.

Implemented in 2010

Many minority and underserved population groups suffer disproportionately from cancer; multidisciplinary research is needed to uncover major factors in cancer disparities, such as genetics, lifestyle and behavior, to help reduce the unequal burden of cancer in the United States.


Creates a new office within the NIH charged with speeding translation of basic scientific discoveries into treatments for patients. The Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) will provide grants of up to $15 million per year, per project, to both industry and academic research to speed translational research.

$50 million authorized for FY2011

Barriers between basic and clinical research make it difficult to translate new scientific discoveries to the clinic and patients–and back again to the laboratory. CAN promises to help overcome these barriers and speed more therapies to patients struggling with cancer and other diseases.


Mandates $15 billion over 10 years for a Prevention and Public Health Fund that will support prevention and public health programs across the country, including for prevention research.  

Appropriated funding began in FY2010

Nearly half of all cancers could be averted through preventative measures such as lifestyle changes and vaccines. This fund will support programs that target obesity, tobacco use and other behaviors that put people at greater risk for cancer. 


Authorizes the FDA to approve generic versions of biologic drugs and grant biologics manufacturers 12 years of exclusive use before generics can be developed.

Implemented in 2010

By putting in place a framework to safely and accurately develop lower-cost therapies, it is anticipated that patients will benefit from the cost savings and exclusivity provisions will preserve incentives for innovators.


Requires that Medicaid cover tobacco cessation programs for pregnant women who are smokers.  

Implemented in 2010

Tobacco use and secondhand smoke pose serious health risks to mothers and their babies. Tobacco accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.


Directs the CDC to develop and implement a national education campaign about the threat breast cancer poses to young women; directs NIH to conduct research to develop and validate new screening tests and methods for prevention and early detection of breast cancer in young women.  

Implemented in 2010


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women under the age of 40. Breast cancers found in younger women are generally more aggressive, are diagnosed at a later stage, and result in lower survival rates.


More resources on health care reform:

A comprehensive resource for understanding the health reform law, including implementation timelines, news and analysis.

State-by-state information about coverage options and explanatory materials on the health reform law and its implementation.