President Barack Obama announced during his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12 that he wanted to launch a new "moon shot" initiative to cure cancer, and that Vice President Joe Biden would lead the initiative (video below).
Many cancer experts praised the initiative, but Dr. Marc Siegel, who is part of the Fox News Medical A-Team, said on "Fox and Friends' on Jan. 14 that Obama should not be pushing a cure for cancer because he's the “wrong commander-in-chief” in comparison to President Richard Nixon, notes MediaMatters.org.
"He's the wrong commander-in-chief for the war on cancer. Now 45 years ago, President Nixon actually put his money where his mouth is. He got $100 million, which was a lot in those days. He got the National Cancer Act passed. The National Cancer Institute started getting behind all the new treatments and research, and it led to 45 years of exciting advances in cancer."
The White House said that, as part of Obama's initiative, $70 million would go "to the National Cancer Institute, part of [National Institutes of Health], to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer and apply that knowledge in the development of more effective approaches to cancer treatment."
That $70 million is an addition to the NCI’s budget of $5.21 billion in 2016, which is already an increase of $260.5 million from fiscal year 2015, according to the NCI website.
"Now, right now, Anna, we're on the cusp of some major advances in cancer. So, President Obama's timing is right. We have personalized medicine coming out. We have immunotherapy where everybody's tumor is looked at as different than everybody else's, where we have treatments that cause the immune system to target the cancer, very, very, very exciting genetic treatments.
"But guess what won't cover this stuff? Obamacare. Because Obamacare is one size fits all. Obamacare is not going to say, 'Hey, this cancer that you have that no one else has, we're going to get insurance to cover it.'"
It's not clear how Siegel came to the conclusion that health insurance under the Affordable Care Act would somehow not cover advanced cancer treatments or that everyone supposedly receives the same cancer treatment regardless of diagnosis.
Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could and did drop people based on pre-existing conditions if they got cancer.
Siegal went on to add:
"Obamacare is narrow networks of doctors. It doesn't include most of these major medical centers, the cancer institutes. It won't include these treatments that are $100,000 per year. And not only that, as you just said, it stifles innovation. $500 billion in taxes over 10 years under Obamacare. Research and development is going on overseas. It's not going on here."
The American Cancer Society website lists numerous reports of cancer research and development that are going on in the U.S.
"Narrow networks of doctors" existed before the Affordable Care Act, as the New Republic noted in 2013:
"Insurance companies have been using limited provider networks for a long time. It's how they conducted business before Obamacare came along and, for better or worse, it's how they'll conduct business now that Obamacare is law ... Market forces, not government, and the main reason insurers are introducing tighter networks. Yet the people objecting to the result are the same ones who say they love markets."
Fox News host Steve Doocy then asked Siegel:
"Doctor, we certainly want them to eventually eradicate cancer. But is the national government being mobilized? You pointed out that Nixon asked for $100 million to fight cancer. Whereas, is this an actual effort on behalf of the Obama administration? Or is it an homage to Joe [Biden], who in the last year lost his son to cancer, and this would be a good project for him?"
ABC News reported that Biden wrote on his Medium social media account that the new initiative would "increase resources -- both private and public -- to fight cancer" and "break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together" to work together and share the latest information.
Siegel admitted to Doocy that it might help if the "major medical centers" had more coordinated care, but added: "President Obama is glomming onto that for purposes of rhetoric. He wants to take a bow here. But he's not really delivering."