Trumpcare will stall the cure for cancer and reduce organ donors, too

Over the past two years as the chief data scientist for the US, I’ve had the opportunity to look over the horizon and see what’s coming in advancements to medicine. The costs of genetic testing continues to drop and is increasingly being used to address diseases like cancer. We also now have a wide array of new sensors to understand the impact of our environments both around us (such as air quality) and inside us (such as our microbiome). These combined with advancements of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have laid the foundation to revolutionize how we treat disease.

But there’s a catch—and it’s called preexisting conditions. Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) will force patients to disclose preexisting conditions, which reintroduces a public fear of your genomic data being used against you—but this data is vital for scientists to collect if we want to continue surging forward with medical research. If it goes forward, Trumpcare will derail this endeavor in three ways.

1. America will miss out on the era of genomic-based medicine

When we look at the next great horizon of medicine, it’s going to require the responsible collection of large amounts of data. With this, we will be able to develop truly customized medical treatments for each patient. This idea is the foundation of the Precision Medicine Initiative, which I was fortunate to help lead at the White House. Being able to safely and responsibly bring together large volumes of data such as a patient’s DNA, environment, or health history offers an unparalleled view into how disease manifests. In fact, when we were working on the Cancer Moonshot, it became very clear that the primary route to winning the war on cancer is to bring together fragmented data sets with modern data science and AI. With these elements, doctors can utilize a more complete picture of a patient’s health to provide better care. Continue reading

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