Dear Research Advocate:
Last week, I wrote about the international trade deficit our country faces. This week, I’d like to focus on the budget deficit. From 2003 to 2011, Medicare and Medicaid spending grew 74% while our economy only grew 35%. With that kind of differential, no government can balance its budget. We need research to address disabling and costly illnesses, but that won’t be enough in and of itself to bridge the gap. We also need tax and entitlement reform that preserves needed services, squeezes out waste and inefficiency (by the way, that’s why we must also fight to protect health economics research, health services research and other research that optimizes health care financing and delivery) and promotes pro-innovation tax changes that are designed to sustain a prosperous nation.
One vocal advocate for a long-term view of the steps our nation must take to secure human and economic progress, including committing to ample and stable public support for medical research, is The Honorable John Porter, Research!America chair and former U.S. representative. He recently penned an op-ed published on CNN.com and elsewhere titled “A do-nothing Congress isn’t healthy.” Mr. Porter makes it clear that we must “view research through the prism of future generations” to properly set a legislative course towards prosperity and good health, and we must not delay.
George Will of The Washington Post also stood up for medical research in last week’s column. I hope he got policy makers thinking when he rightly called sequestration “a public health hazard.” And Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) talks about the return on investment of medical research in her state and across the country in a recent interview. Bringing the message back home to lawmakers during the recess is critical to our success as advocates. I recently highlighted the impact of sequestration for medical research in New Jersey on a local radio interview. New Jersey has lost $12 million in NIH funding which has had a direct impact on jobs and the local economy.
A brief budget update: When Congress returns in September, we anticipate that after some wrangling, the House and Senate will negotiate a short continuing resolution (“CR”) that will finance the government through the debt ceiling debate, which is forecast for late October. It is expected that the fate of sequestration will be decided as part of that debate, which is why advocates need to work hard and smart to convince policy makers that sequestration is a blow to America’s capacity for progress and prosperity now and in the future.
Help keep the pressure up by talking to your representatives. Speak up at a local town hall. Join our social media campaign or use our website to tell Congress to rise above party lines and do what is right — and smart — for our country. Medical progress is bigger than the current budget debates; it’s about the future of mankind. Keep fighting the good fight.