Dear Research Advocate:
It has been a week since the Budget Conference Committee’s first meeting. The next public meeting is scheduled for November 13. Staffs are at work, and various Members are talking. There are no concrete signs of progress. What I keep coming back to is the failure of our nation’s decision makers to recognize and act on the reality that the priorities of Americans are reflected in both discretionary and entitlement programs. The persistence of sequestration underscores Congress’ inability to make decisions and choose priorities. The sequestration era has run its course, dealing Congress record lows in terms of public support; it’s past time to end the era and move on.
Recently I shared my letter to the Budget Conference Committee; it argued for an end to sequestration, pointing out the importance of investing in medical research as a pragmatic strategy for decreasing the national debt and deficit. This week I followed up with a letter on the importance of health research, pointing out how it helps identify smart medical innovation and optimal health care financing and delivery. The letter showcases the essential role of health economics, health services, public health, behavioral and social science research in assuring quality medical innovation and smart health care delivery. We are concerned that if the research stakeholder community at large does not speak out for this critical research, it will be compromised or even defunded altogether. Please join us in raising your voice.
At a time when votes are critical to the future of science and scientific careers, we all have to work harder at winning them. My recent op-ed in The Scientist stresses the need for scientists themselves to play a role in winning hearts, minds and votes. By making a personal connection, putting a face on science, and discussing the issues with a broad audience, scientists are uniquely positioned to convince all Americans of their stake in Washington-centric budget debates. Scientific progress is an enduring priority for Americans, but there is no progress without research.
Not only are scientists far too invisible in our nation (see my op-ed above), but those who serve the public’s health in other ways are also too rarely in the public eye. Please join our upcoming Public Health Thank You Day to help call attention to their work. November is a month to pause and give thanks; every year, on the Monday before Thanksgiving, we take a moment to recognize the tireless efforts of public health professionals. This year, on November 25, we will be making a special effort to personalize the benefits of public health — clearly part and parcel of our determination to win the hearts and minds of everyday Americans. Add your voice to the chorus thanking those who protect us every day by utilizing the resources in our Public Health Thank You Day toolkit. And spread the word!