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Obama Rolls Out Cancer Policy as Kerry Rebuts Palin

Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign unveiled a new plank of its health-care policy on Friday. They outlined a plan to fight cancer, double funding for cancer research to $5 billion a year, protect cancer patients against health-care discrimination for pre-existing conditions and revive the National institute of Health, or NIH.

About 10 million Americans experience cancer during their lifetimes, and the medical costs alone topped $78 billion last year, according to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Image has not been found. URL: http://www.washingtonindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/picture-31-300x242.pngThe NIH. (Photo Credit: Culhanen)

“Under the Bush administration, federal cancer research funding has remained basically flat as inflation and medical costs increased,” said Sen. John Kerry, speaking about the plan on a media call with Jill Biden and campaign policy director Neera Tanden. Kerry, who noted that he, Obama and Sen. John McCain had all faced family battles with cancer, criticized McCain for voting “against NIH funding” and lamented that the Republican nominee said the NIH was “not effective.”

Asked by a reporter how an Obama-Biden administration would pay for its plan, Kerry said Obama’s broader health care initiative would be funded by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy. Then he proactively raised Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s nomination speech, saying it was riddled with inaccuracies, and slammed it as “blatantly false.”

On Friday night, an Obama campaign video will be broadcast during the “Stand Up To Cancer Telethon.” Obama’s aides argue that his record demonstrates a longstanding commitment to funding cancer research and treatment:

Obama has spent his career fighting to improve prevention and treatment of cancer. As an Illinois state senator, Obama passed laws to mandate insurance coverage of colorectal cancer examinations, ensure Medicaid coverage for treatment of breast and cervical cancers [and] promote early detection of prostate and testicular cancers,… As U.S. senator, he has fought for increased funding for cancer research, and championed genomics and personalized medicine to identify new and better treatments for cancer and other diseases.

While the Obama campaign tapped major surrogates and senior policy staff to unveil the cancer plan, interest among the traditional media appeared anemic. Only one reporter asked a question during the call — an AP journalist who said he joined late — and the only other question came from a self-described doctor. (It was not clear how he joined the media call or if he was affiliated with the campaign.)

Fighting cancer is not a hot political story, but it’s another task where, as Obama thundered in his nomination speech, Democrats want to use the government to serve the public and Republicans say “you’re on your own.”

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