Dear Research Advocate:
I invite you to join me in speaking out during the Memorial Day congressional recess (May 27-31) as part of a social media campaign using the hashtag #curesnotcuts. Our goal is to continue to position research and innovation to improve health where it belongs: as a fundamental national priority that Americans can count on because their elected representatives rank it so highly. In our social media campaign, each day of the recess has a specific theme that can be customized with your information and patient/researcher stories. We have made it easy to get involved: click here to see sample social media messages, a list of selected congressional offices and their Twitter handles, and other resources. Also during Memorial Day recess: the first of several opportunities to participate in open meetings NIH is holding as planning of the BRAIN Initiative goes forward. You can participate in person or by phone. Learn more here.
The House Appropriations Committee has released its 302(b) allocations, setting funding levels for all 12 subcommittees. In a clear calculation that other appropriations bills can be passed at flat or even increased funding levels, one was singled out to absorb the lion’s share of the pain. The Labor-HHS subcommittee, which funds NIH, CDC and AHRQ, was allocated funding 18.6% below its final FY13 number — which already included the FY13 sequestration cut! It is estimated that if this allocation were signed into law, $5.38 billion would be cut from NIH and more than $1 billion from the CDC. While, at the end of the day, a cut of that magnitude is unlikely, the fact that it is even being suggested is of great concern. Think about the classic pattern of “splitting the difference” between House and Senate budgets: If an extremely low number is used by the House, any “compromise” could result in a very steep cut. Research!America is part of a large coalition of more than 900 health, education and workforce training organizations that has sent a letter expressing opposition to the proposed cuts. Please draw on the text to bang the drum loudly on this point to your elected officials! (The committee overseeing FDA fell within “standard” funding allocation levels, but “standard” does not mean adequate. Remember that all federal funding is subject to sequestration, and even without sequestration FDA is grossly underfunded today, given the breadth and complexity of its critical mission.)
As you may know, pharmaceutical and medical device companies pay user fees to help FDA offset the cost of reviewing applications for the approval of medical products. Due to the sequester, the full amount of the user fees is not being made available to the agency to support its mission; in other words, it’s being used as a way to cut funding for FDA (Roll Call). Research!America is actively involved in efforts to ensure the fees paid by industry are made available to the agency. This is an important issue, with negative implications for the pace of medical progress. Please consider including it in your messages to Congress.
We clearly have our work cut out for us on many fronts in order to protect medical research and innovation, including public funding for research. As you think about making the case for research, I want to remind you of polling data I’ve mentioned before: A majority of Americans say they would be willing to pay additional taxes — $1 more per week (amounting to approximately $4.4 billion) — if they knew those dollars were going to medical research. The public is on our side with their wallets as well as their hearts and minds! It’s time for more policy makers to join them, and it’s all our job to make the case so they will. I’m confident that working together, we’ll get it done. Patients are waiting.