Republicans offer bipartisan, bicameral bill to reauthorize measure fighting child cancer

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) on April 28 to introduce a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would reauthorize legislation to maximize discovery, and accelerate development and availability, of promising childhood cancer treatments for the next five years.

Rep. McCaul sponsored the Childhood Cancer STAR (Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research) Reauthorization Act of 2022, H.R. 7630, with cosponsors and fellow members of the Childhood Cancer Caucus Rep. Kelly and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), while Sens. Capito and Murkowski cosponsored the same-named S. 4120 alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

“The STAR Act is the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever considered before Congress and has been instrumental in boosting research that addresses major concerns facing the pediatric cancer community,” said Rep. McCaul. “Protecting the lives of our children continues to be a priority, and I am hopeful the STAR Act is reauthorized so it may continue to save young lives.”

If enacted, the legislation would reauthorize the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, authored by Sens. Capito and Reed in 2018. Since being signed into law, it has helped deliver over $120 million to fund promising childhood cancer research and assist patients and families battling cancer.

“I was incredibly proud to be part of the passage of the STAR Act in 2018, which has made an important difference in the lives of children with cancer, as well as childhood cancer survivors and their families,” Sen. Capito said last week. “Since that time, the legislation has resulted in unprecedented opportunities and funding for childhood cancer research, allowed us to better understand and track the incidence of disease, and improved the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors. 

“This reauthorization,” she said, “will allow these opportunities to continue and bring us closer to a world without childhood cancer.”

Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but remains the second-leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 after accidents, according to the American Cancer Society. Health experts estimate that nearly 10,500 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2022.

If enacted, the newly introduced bill would expand opportunities for childhood cancer research; improve childhood cancer surveillance; help enhance quality of life opportunities for childhood cancer survivors; and ensure pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“I’m proud to once again support and lead the STAR Act, which has proven its immense value since it was first passed in 2018,” said Rep. Kelly. “Our children are our future, and it’s our duty to fund the research that will protect them in their most vulnerable moments and to ultimately find a cure. I’m hopeful that Congress will prioritize this research and reauthorize the STAR Act.”

“Cancer is an unimaginable and heartbreaking experience for anyone — particularly for children who are diagnosed and the caregivers who support them in their treatment journey,” Sen. Murkowski said. “The STAR Act Reauthorization takes a multifaceted approach to addressing childhood cancer by boosting research efforts, bolstering data collection, and improving the quality of life for all the brave children who’ve survived this awful disease.” 

“I’m proud to help introduce a comprehensive childhood cancer bill in an effort to help create a world for future generations where the phrase ‘you have cancer’ doesn’t exist,” she added.