A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Many ways and many means

Today, the House Ways and Means Committee considered legislation (HR 880) to make the R&D tax credit permanent. A simplified, permanent R&D tax credit would amplify the credit’s proven positive impact on the pace of innovation and the strength of our economy. Read our statement submitted for the record here. We know from recent polling that Americans value the R&D tax credit, even if the federal government loses some revenue annually. This and more poll data will be highlighted in our 2015 Poll Data Summary next week, so keep an eye out for this timely read!

Tax reform is one component of the policy climate in which R&D flourishes…or doesn’t. Dr. Mark McClellan, Research!America Board member and Director of the Health Care Innovation and Value Initiative at Brookings, has co-authored two relevant articles in the February issue of Health Affairs: one that looks at ways to bolster the inadequate pipeline of high priority antibiotics as resistant strains of infectious illness proliferate; and a second article that discusses approaches to assessing the “innovativeness” of medical advances. The significance of the former is self-evident. The significance of the latter is multi-faceted, but one important reason to gauge “innovativeness” is to help answer the value question central to reimbursement decisions and other policies. There is no easy way to assign the “right” value to products that could have broad-scale, tangible and intangible, short- and long-term impact on our health, wellbeing and productivity, the economy, federal, state and local budgets, national security, and more. This is an important undertaking, since if we don’t understand exactly where medical progress falls among our national and individual priorities, we are bound to under- or over-incentivize it. And that’s costly on many, many levels. Both of the studies Mark contributed to are well worth the read.

Tax reform is one part of the innovation equation; adequate funding is another. The flurry of inside-the-beltway activity in support of faster medical progress continues apace. Late last week, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Senate companion to the DeLauro/Higgins/King Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. This legislation, first introduced by then- Senator Tom Harkin in the 113th Congress, would authorize annual exemptions from the Budget Control Act budget caps to allow for robust growth in NIH funding. And this week, Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) introduced the Permanent Investment in Health Research Act which would make NIH’s funding a mandatory appropriation that would grow at the rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It’s truly exciting that medical progress is being accorded the high priority it deserves among issues of the day. Be sure to tell your Members of Congress that their leadership is welcome!

Research!America convened a meeting of alliance members yesterday to discuss 21st Century Cures and other issues of shared interest. It was a terrific, candid discussion, which helped us as we refine our strategy to work through these issues. We hope you can join us for the next one. (We send invitations to discussions like this to the primary contact in each of our member organizations, but please don’t hesitate to e-mail Ellie Dehoney if you are a member but not getting these invitations.)

Finally, some great news. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, will make keynote remarks at our annual meeting at noon on Wednesday, March 11. Details and registration information about the annual meeting can be found here. Please join us and then come that evening to our annual Advocacy Awards Dinner! Click here for tickets to the dinner.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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