President Barack Obama's campaign promise was to fund more help for cancer patients navigating through treatment. It's a move to pair cancer patients with non-medical health care professionals whose job is to help patients navigate the maze of tests, procedures and specialists that cancer patients face. Navigators also help patients find community resources to support them as their recovery continues.
Obama's promise was to fund programs under the Centers for Disease Control, but his most successful actions on patient navigation have fallen under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Health Resources and Services Administration. (We don't see any meaningful difference for Obama's promise if a different agency oversees the action promised.)
The health care law Obama signed in 2010 authorizes (but does not appropriate) funding for patient navigation programs through 2015. (That means the program has legal authority but doesn't have actual funding yet.) An official with HHS told us the program has not received proposed funding of $50 million at this time, but the department hopes to work with Congress to secure funding in the future. In September 2010, the department announced its latest round of grants totalling $3.8 million. For fiscal year 2011, the program is funded with $4.93 million, but appropriations bills pending in Congress show the programs would receive no funding in 2012.
We should note that the economic downturn has reduced funding for many government programs, and Obama's call to fund patient navigation to the level promised seems unlikely. We will look for any change in funding levels in the future, but for now, we rate this one Promise Broken.