Payne receives top award from American Cancer Society

U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr.

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. received the 2021 National Distinguished Advocacy Award from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network for his work to increase awareness and treatments for colorectal cancer. The award is the network’s highest honor for a public official. Payne has been a tireless fighter against colorectal cancer since his father, U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Sr., died from the disease in 2012. 

“It is an honor to receive an award for a cause that is very personal to me,” Payne Jr. said. “After my father’s passing, I have worked to increase cancer screenings and treatments so we can lower cancer deaths. I was proud that my bill, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, became law last year to help Medicare recipients get their colorectal cancer screenings and polyp removals covered completely by Medicare. Now, I am working to pass two bills that would make it easier to detect colorectal cancer and eliminate out-of-pocket costs for treatments sooner.” 

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer and kills more than 50,000 Americans annually. But it has one of the highest survival rates if it is detected and treated early. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act modifies cost-sharing requirements for colorectal cancer screening tests under Medicare to help more Americans access lifesaving colonoscopies. In addition, Payne Jr. has worked closely with ACS CAN and spoken at several of the network’s “Lights of Hope” ceremonies.

“Rep. Payne Jr. has exemplified what it means to be a dedicated champion in the fight against cancer,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “His enduring leadership on the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act is a testament to his steadfast commitment to passing public policies that improve the lives of cancer patients and survivors. We are very grateful for our valuable partnership with Rep. Payne Jr. and look forward to future opportunities to work together as we strive to improve public health and address the burden of cancer for families across the country.”

The award presentation was part of the ACS CAN Leadership Summit and Lobby Day on Sept. 28. During that event, nearly 700 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones met virtually with elected officials to promote the need for more cancer research and prevention funding.