Legislators and policymakers have a responsibility to use their power to address the cancer problem. The Congress must be better informed about the cancer problem at the community level and must understand that research alone will not solve the cancer problem. Research being funded and conducted today will not see application for years, and no matter how much research is conducted, the cancer problem will never be substantially reduced unless all people have timely geographic, cultural, and financial access to appropriate cancer prevention and cancer care services. Public officials and legislators are central to solving these access issues.
Federal payers and providers (e.g., Health Care Financing Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Defense, Veterans Administration), and state/local public providers enact policies and procedures in accordance with legislation that governs their actions. Many of these entities would like to do more for their beneficiary populations, but depend on the legislatures to provide funds and appropriate authority for their programs. Private providers and payers also act in accordance with regulations to which they are bound, but may be motivated by their profit orientation to provide only those services required by regulation or demanded by purchasers of care. Moreover, legislation, and the programs, regulations, and policies that flow from it, must be based on concepts that promote better cancer care.