Tag Archives: AHRQ
Last week, a briefing sponsored by the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) brought the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research and Development program to Capitol Hill. Two researchers – John McQuaid, Ph.D., of San Francisco VA Medical Center and Daniel Gottlieb, M.D., M.P.H., of VA Boston Healthcare System – shared their work to advance health outcomes for veterans. The topics discussed varied, including substance abuse, phantom pain, depression, and sleep apnea, and represented just a small fraction of the research conducted by VA Research and Development. The mission of the VA research team was clear: we as a nation have the responsibility to apply science to veterans’ care in order to achieve the highest level of care for those who served this country.
In order to reach that goal, the many players in the health research ecosystem need to work together. The speakers described the system as interdependent, highlighting the “cross-pollination” across the various public, private, and academic research systems. VA Research and Development has successfully partnered with other government agencies – including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Research and Healthcare Quality – in order to maximize the reach and scope of their research. Examples from the San Francisco VA Medical Center model promoted the unique role of non-governmental organizations, such as non-profits, in linking federal and private research partnerships. Strategic collaboration can leverage collective resources for research during this era of tight budgets and allow for improved health outcomes for our veterans. To learn more about the important research conducted through the VA Research and Development program, please click here.
The August congressional recess is here! Members of Congress are back home for the month long break. Now’s the time to speak up and urge policy makers to make research for health a higher national priority before they return to Capitol Hill and make decisions that will affect the health and prosperity of our nation. Join Research!America’s social media congressional recess campaign, Medical Research is at Risk. We Need Cures, Not Cuts! Customize your messages with statistics, patient/researcher stories, examples of innovative research, and descriptions of the impact of sequestration to help make research part of the national conversation on social media and beyond.
Follow us on Twitter @ResearchAmerica and use the hashtag #curesnotcuts. We will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and we encourage you to engage your representatives on social media channels as well.
Sample Twitter messages:
- .@RepJohnDoe, sequestration=fewer doses of vaccines for the flu, measles, whooping cough & hepatitis. We need #curesnotcuts!
- If we don’t act soon, #sequestration & additional cuts will endanger private sector innovation. #curesnotcuts http://bit.ly/19dKiHZ
- .@AHRQNews is the lead agency funding research that has reduced deadly hospital infections, which kill 100,000 each year. #curesnotcuts
- Impact of #sequestration & other budget changes to @CDCgov = $40 million reduction in HIV prevention. #curesnotcuts http://1.usa.gov/18vU19O
- If user fees paid by industry are subject to sequestration, @US_FDA’s budget will lose $85M, slowing access to breakthroughs. #curesnotcuts Continue reading →
Dear Research Advocate:
Budget Uncertainty Deepens
The House Appropriations Committee has postponed this week’s scheduled consideration of the Labor-Health and Human Services (Labor-H) funding measure. A New York Times article indicated that the bill protects NIH funding; but, given how low the overall spending number is for Labor-H, “protected” is most likely interpreted as the NIH being cut less than other agencies, themselves highly valued. The distance between the Senate (passed) and House (estimated) Labor-H appropriations — in excess of 20% — sets the stage for another continuing resolution (CR). What actually does happen next is uncertain, which is why advocacy is essential.
The Devil’s in the Details
There are so many health priorities on the line in the not-yet-official House Labor-H bill. Perennial threats are back on the table, including wholly unjustifiable underfunding of CDC, the elimination of AHRQ and PCORI, a prohibition on funding for health economics research at NIH, and more micromanagement of the NIH as well. If any or all of these issues strikes a chord with you, let us help you write a letter to your representative asking them to represent your views in Congress. Email email@example.com — one of us will get right back to you. Continue reading →
Dear Research Advocate:
This week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase NIH funding by $307 million in FY14, an increase largely due to the unwavering support of Labor-HHS subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin and Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski. The Senate bill also increases funding for the CDC by $1.6 billion over FY13. It is important to note that the Senate bill does not include sequestration reductions, but Mikulski has vowed to fight these dangerous, continued cuts. (See my brief statement on this week’s Senate action.) We all realize that these proposed funding levels are not adequate to capitalize on the current opportunity in science and respond robustly to the needs of patients and their families, but they are significantly better than what the House has in store. The overall funding level in the House Labor-HHS bill, which includes NIH, CDC and AHRQ, is 26% less than the Senate’s proposal, leaving the outcome of any kind of budget deal bleak indeed. “Compromise” between the two houses would be significantly worse than a continuing resolution, and sequestration is still in place. In short, the welcome action of the Senate is not likely to become the law of the land. We have work to do!
Congress can be an insular place, as evidenced by cuts policy makers are weighing for research and other basic government functions. Outside Congress, the implications of underfunding are all too real. Take the story of Navy veteran and cancer patient Bryan Fazio, who exemplifies American values and whose story is a testament to the importance of continued research. We may lose this amazing young man, but with continued research we can save others struggling with this disease. Please join me in contacting Members of Congress and urging them to support robust funding for health and research during the FY14 appropriations process and beyond.
Lawmakers across the pond recognize the importance of investing in research. British Chancellor George Osborne announced a capital investment commitment of £1.1 billion ($1.661 billion) a year in the science budget through the end of the decade, influenced by the strong case made by the U.K. National Academies for the economic benefits of research (see report). The U.K., under a conservative government and with an austerity budget, has made a national commitment to science and research. They are not alone. Australia’s federal government recently announced a $13.5 million ($12.42 million U.S.) investment in research to improve primary care, including a research partnership with Canada. Other nations are following suit and ramping up research; isn’t it ironic that the U.S. wrote the playbook but now appears to be ceding global leadership? I don’t think it is a choice the American people are making. Based on our polling data and a number of recent radio interviews around the nation, I have come to the conclusion that Americans are taking for granted that policy makers are giving research a high priority, and since policy makers are not hearing from their constituents, they are not thinking twice about cutting research as part of deficit reduction. People are surprised to find out that research isn’t the priority it once was; surprised to learn about cuts that have already occurred; and openly shocked to hear about further cuts being proposed. I implore you to join me in setting the record straight and connecting the dots for people you know who might be taking research funding for granted. We must inform Americans and then translate the shock of understanding into advocacy. We have been urging more Americans to speak out via Twitter using the hashtag #curesnotcuts. Please join in.
As July 4th approaches, we have another opportunity to contact elected officials via social media during the Congressional recess (July 1 – 5) to drive home the message that medical innovation should be protected from further cuts.
Each day we will highlight a specific theme that can be customized with your statistics and patient/researcher stories. For example, on Wednesday we’ll focus on the drug discovery pipeline because basic research fuels private sector innovation which translates into new diagnostics, devices and products to improve the health of all Americans.
Follow us on Twitter @ResearchAmerica and use the hashtag #curesnotcuts to join in the national conversation. We will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and we encourage you to engage your representatives on Facebook and Twitter as well. Please take time out of your holiday weekend to help make medical and health research a higher national priority. Continue reading →
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.) Continue reading →
On April 24th, representatives from members of the Coalition for Health Funding gathered on Capitol Hill to visit with Members of Congress. As a member of CHF, Research!America participated in these informational visits with offices of freshman Congressmen and Senators. The theme of the day was “health is everywhere,” and advocates sought to communicate the important role of health and research in the lives of Americans and in our economy.
During the meetings, advocates spoke about how adequate funding for agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and others can help address soaring health care costs including Medicaid and Medicare expenses. Continue reading →
How much financial benefit do we reap from biomedical research? What are the economic gains that result from introduction of new medications, changes to personal health behavior or reworking the Medicare and Medicaid health systems? These and other questions were discussed at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on health economics research co-sponsored by Academy Health, Research!America and other organizations. In an era of skyrocketing medical costs, this type of research can provide vital information to policy makers and health care providers to reign in the costs of healthcare without compromising the quality of patient care. Continue reading →
Dear Research Advocate,
The President’s budget is out and it’s a mixed bag. First, the good news. NSF was given a significant funding boost, $593M over 2012 levels, NIH funding was increased by $470M, and AHRQ, via budget trade-offs, looks to have been boosted by $64M. The increases are from FY12 to FY14, since the President’s budget replaces sequestration in a different way than either Congressional body (see more below). The not so good news in the President’s budget is that other health research agencies did not fare well. The CDC budget was cut deeply, especially prevention programs. FDA was essentially flat -funded. And entitlement-reform may pose a challenge to innovation.
The different ways the three budgets, President, Senate and House, deal with sequestration is symptomatic of the continuing failure to reach agreement on anything resembling comprehensive legislation, including so-called “grand bargains.” The fact that there is so much attention to medical research in the President’s budget, as well as on the floor of the Senate recently, and from a number of Members of Congress, speaks to the progress the research advocacy community is making in bringing medical research to the forefront. But success to date has not diminished the need for heightened advocacy for public health and social sciences research, nor the imperative of carefully evaluating the full consequences of changes to entitlements. The three budgets deal with entitlements in different ways, but with similar ill-effect when it comes to innovation. There is no question that we need tax and entitlement reform, and no question that sequestration must be eliminated; however, we cannot thrive as a nation or succeed at deficit reduction if entitlement reforms come at the expense of private sector innovation. See our statement on the President’s budget here.
Speaking of social science research — so clearly under fire — it is not too late to RSVP to a Capitol Hill briefing we are co-hosting tomorrow on economic research. There is a terrific lineup of speakers.
I know many of you attended the Rally for Medical Research on Monday here in Washington, a coalition effort led by the AACR. Thousands of like-minded research advocates and a wonderful array of speakers, including our board chair, The Honorable John Porter, gathered to crank up the volume for research. In his remarks, Mr. Porter urged advocates to get fighting mad or we risk continued cuts from Congress. Review his remarks here; then, take a moment to participate in the Rally’s on-going text messaging campaign to urge Congress to assign a high priority to medical research. You can view press coverage of the event and the full list of speakers. During the event, social media attention was strong — messaging trended #2 globally on Twitter. That’s the level of volume and attention we must continue to maintain if we want to see a happy ending to budget negotiations. Please do your part!
More than 50 Nobel laureates are doing their part; they have joined forces to send a letter to Congress urging them to fund, rather than freeze or cut, research and development. In the letter, the Laureates cite their deep concern over reduced funding levels and the negative impact this will have on the next generation of scientists and ultimately, upon our nation’s economic vitality. It’s a good reminder that the full science community is in this battle together. Take a moment now to echo their message by urging your representative to sign on the Markey-McKinley letter calling for a $1.5B boost to NIH funding. Click here to see the list of current signers. If your representative is on the list, be sure to thank them for standing up for research. If they haven’t signed-on yet, click here to send them a message.
On Monday, we released our latest national poll, focused on chronic pain and drug addiction. Surprisingly, only 18% of the poll respondents believe chronic pain is a major health problem, yet two-thirds know someone who has sought relief from chronic pain. Huge majorities are concerned about abuse or misuse of prescription medications; the need for better understanding of how to address chronic pain literally cries out for research. You can view our media release here.
Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on President Obama’s FY14 Budget Proposal
The president’s FY14 budget proposal offers a lifeline for medical research to replace sequestration’s damaging footprints. The budget includes $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, as well as increases for the Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. These increases would take our nation in the right direction, but we’re concerned that budget proposals from Congress – one from each of the House and Senate – unlike the president, fail to reverse sequestration. Sequestration, 10 years of across-the-board spending cuts, will drag our nation down from its leadership position in research and development as other countries aggressively ramp up investments, attracting American businesses and young scientists concerned that federal funding is on the decline, that the U.S. no longer prioritizes research. Policy makers must start acting in the best interests of this nation and tackle tax and entitlement reform to end sequestration.
Our nation has the most sophisticated medical research ecosystem in the world; yet our elected officials have ignored the short- and long-term consequences of dismantling it via sequestration – more deaths from preventable diseases, increased joblessness and soaring health care costs as more Baby boomers become afflicted with Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening, costly illnesses.
While the president’s budget increases federally-funded medical research, Congress and the administration must look more deeply into the consequences of dramatic cuts to Medicare Parts B and D, which cover crucial medical innovations including prescription drugs, biologics, and medical devices. If Medicare undervalues these preventative, diagnostic, and treatment tools, access and innovation will both suffer. The counterproductive effect of slowed innovation and access barriers could be increased hospital and other health care costs. We’re also disappointed that the president’s budget cuts funding for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention which is already operating on a severely depleted budget. Cuts to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which identifies waste and duplication in our health care system while combating deadly medical errors are also a strategic mistake. Policymakers must tread carefully in the coming weeks to avoid decision-making that will endanger the health and economic prosperity of our country.
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This guest post comes from Edward Grandi, Executive Director of the American Sleep Apnea Association.
The American Sleep Apnea Association, founded in 1990, is the only national nonprofit patient advocacy organization dedicated to educating the public about sleep apnea and supporting patients in treatment.
We are pleased to be a member of Research!America as it gives us an opportunity to help carry forward the message about the importance of sleep in medical research and to join with other organizations to promote the work of agencies like NIH, CDC and AHRQ to members of Congress.
The field of sleep medicine is still relatively young and research into the fundamental causes of sleep disorders is just beginning. The association’s research interests span from basic science into why and how we sleep to understanding clinical applications to improve sleep by correcting disorders. Continue reading →
Dear Research Advocate,
Glimmers of hope can be found in the dire funding situation we face under sequestration. The continuing resolution (C.R.) funding the government through the end of the fiscal year (September 30) included very small increases for NIH, CDC, NSF and FDA; AHRQ was flat funded. But the fact remains that these increases were overwhelmed by the effect of sequestration, which remains in place and will continue to weigh us down for 10 years unless overturned. Our champions in Congress are speaking out and taking a stand on behalf of research as the budget negotiation proceeds. Reps. McKinley (R-WV) and Markey (D-MA) have co-authored a letter to House appropriators calling for $32 billion for NIH in FY14, a $1.5 billion increase. Take action right away and urge your representatives to sign on! Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) delivered a powerful floor speech highlighting the bipartisan importance of investing in NIH. In the Senate, Sens. Durbin, Mikulski, Moran and Cardin sponsored an amendment to the budget resolution calling for increased investment for biomedical research at the NIH. While this move is largely symbolic, it demonstrates the level of bipartisan commitment of our champions. You can view Senator Durbin’s statement here as well as the Research!America statement. And special thanks are due to Senator Harkin for his effort to provide NIH with a $244 million increase as part of the C.R. His sustained leadership has helped in so many ways to sustain NIH through good times and bad. Read our statement on his amendment here.
Congress is on recess and getting an earful from their constituents. A new public opinion poll shows that people are extremely angry at Congress but don’t see that sequestration is going to be a problem. That’s why it’s important to connect the dots. Hooray for a flurry of articles published in newspapers in Baltimore, Lancaster (PA), Los Angeles and Seattle —all emphasizing the damage being done by sequestration. More are called for! In a pulling-no-punches editorial in Science, Dr. Bruce Alberts lays out his concerns for the future of research, a future that is closely linked to the decisions our elected officials will make over the coming months. He invites responses; you can weigh in.
Many of you may be aware of our upcoming panel discussion on April 8 — Conquering Pain & Fighting Addiction: Policy Imperatives to Combat a Growing Health Crisis — featuring thought leaders on issues relating to pain and addiction. This a critical topic of growing national importance with a major role for research — I hope you can join us. Register here. Earlier in the day, the entire staff of Research!America will join tens of thousands of advocates at the Rally for Medical Research on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. Let’s all join forces that day to drive home the message that research must be a higher national priority.
The Rally for Medical Research will be held on Monday, April 8 at 11:00 a.m. in Washington, DC, on the steps of the Carnegie Library. Join Research!America and more than 100 other organizations to call on our nation’s policymakers to make lifesaving medical research a higher national priority. With the support of researchers, patients and advocates, the Rally for Medical Research is a tremendous opportunity to send a powerful, coordinated message to Capitol Hill.
If you can’t make it to DC for the Rally, you can take specific actions on April 8 such as:
- Send an email to or call congressional offices,
- Tweet members of Congress with a message or post on the member’s Facebook page,
- Write letters to the editor and place op-eds in newspapers across the country before and during the week of April 8, and
- Gather a group of individuals to schedule a meeting with their members of Congress’ district office.
You can also contact your Congressional representatives and inquire about upcoming town hall events or meetings in your district during the upcoming recess. With passage of yet another continuing resolution, Congress has established funding for the remainder of FY13 without reversing the senseless across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. It is vital that we speak out now to advocate for FY14 funding levels that reflect the importance of research and a commitment to federal agencies like NIH, CDC, NSF, AHRQ and FDA.
A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: When “kicking the can down the road” is better than the alternative
Dear Research Advocate,
Medical research advocates are being heard by those urging a halt to across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1; your voices are being picked up in the media and echoed by decision makers. But as the deadline approaches, no progress has been made, with many Members of Congress insisting that sequestration go forward. As much as we, and the public at large, have railed against Congress when it “kicks the can down the road,” this is a time to call for just that! Delaying sequestration would create the opportunity (of course, not the promise) of a “grand bargain” before the continuing resolution ends March 27. (In order to avoid shutting down the government, Congress must act before that date. It may be another case of kick-the-can, extending funding until the end of the fiscal year on September 30.) What advocates must push for right now is to eliminate sequestration in favor of prioritization and pragmatism. Email your representatives, sign this petition from AAAS, and stop sequestration. When you reach out to your representatives, use our revised fact sheet and make sure to highlight how sequester would impact your priorities. For other examples, see the just-released fact sheet on sequestration from The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) as well as Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s report.
The House subcommittee that sets funding levels for NIH, CDC and AHRQ wants to hear from you! On March 13, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee is holding a public witness hearing. Requests to testify are due by Monday, February 25. This is an excellent opportunity to make your voice heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. (Members of Research!America, let us know if we can help draft a request letter!)
The New York Times reported Monday that the White House is planning to launch a decade-long project led by the NIH to unravel the core functions of the brain. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins spoke about the Brain Activity Map on PBS’s Newshour last evening. Scientists are hoping that the project will provide $300 million in funding per year for a decade or more, with the end goal of understanding what goes wrong in the brain and how this leads to some of the most insidious and expensive diseases plaguing Americans and the world. The price tag is daunting, and it will be important to ensure this project doesn’t supplant other critical research, but there is no doubt that cracking the code to the numerous diseases of the brain would be a breathtaking advance in modern medicine.
Speaking of spectacular research, the richest research prize ever has been announced. The winners will receive a prize of $3 million each in recognition of their high impact research. This headline-grabbing announcement helps put faces on science and remind the country of its value, perhaps inspiring young Americans to pursue a career in research. But awards are not enough to stop the onslaught of growing public health threats like Alzheimer’s and other diseases, especially when many policy makers are prepared to allow sequestration to occur. We need to reinvest in our innovative capacity, not cut it off at a time of immense opportunity for health breakthroughs and research-driven economic growth.
Dear Research Advocate,
The debate over how to stop sequestration rages on, with the president weighing in this week even as some influential Members of Congress hold fast to a do-nothing strategy. Now it’s time for us all to speak out! Along with our partners, we are pulling out the stops TODAY with a coordinated Day of Action. In just 10 minutes you can call and email your representatives, as well as congressional leadership. Then ask everyone in your networks — professional and personal — to do the same. Use this link to find our e-action alert and click here for access to congressional emails and phone numbers. Congress pays attention to volumes of communication; act now to assure that they know that sequestration is no way to drive the economy or improve health.
Research!America Board members and former Congressmen John Porter and Kweisi Mfume are speaking out with a timely op-ed in The Hill. The bottom line? Our nation must find its way to a fiscally sustainable path without sacrificing programs that improve our health and our economic prosperity. Former Governor John Engler, CEO of Business Roundtable (BRT), is calling for a pro-growth solution to the nation’s deficit; he points out that failure to act, and moving from one fiscal crisis to another, is counterproductive to sustained growth. A new report from BRT also speaks to the importance of our nation continuing to invest in STEM education and federal R&D.
Until the sequestration battle is resolved, likely at the 11th hour as usual, the media will be hungry for stories and examples of how sequestration could affect your community or your institutions. The Boston Globe has been providing ongoing coverage of impact in the greater Boston area, but media outlets in other parts of the country have yet to follow suit. It’s time to pitch your story to the media! Fortunately, compelling data and persuasive arguments for your op-ed, article or letter to the editor are easy to come by. United for Medical Research has just released a new report detailing what’s at stake: more than 20,000 jobs and $3 billion in economic output. Science Works for U.S. has put together an excellent video resource featuring research leaders from across the country speaking out about sequestration. See also this new report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, providing chapter and verse on how federal funding pays off.
Media attention to State of the Union address on February 12 provides another opportunity to emphasize sequestration’s potentially devastating impact on research. Join Research!America and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network for a pre-SOTU Twitter chat on Monday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Visit @ResearchAmerica and @ACSCAN on Twitter to follow me and ACSCAN President Chris Hansen as we discuss important facts about sequestration and answer questions from participants. Use the hashtag #curesnotcuts in your tweets to join the conversation.
In case you missed it, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a speech extolling the cost-controlling, as well as healing power, of research and called for cutting unnecessary red tape and for the repeal of the medical device tax. He described the federal government’s vital role in supporting basic medical research “appropriate.” But his remarks also called for “re-prioritizing” existing research spending, away from the social sciences. His remarks make it clear that advocates have our work cut out to connect the dots between social science research and controlling health care costs and saving lives.
Dr. Carolyn Clancy is stepping down from AHRQ after a distinguished 10-year record of improving health care delivery and ensuring that medical providers use up to date evidence-based practices. Read our press statement here. NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh is also leaving his position. Dr. Suresh has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary collaborations throughout NSF and has worked to broaden participation in NSF-supported activities. You can read our press statement here. The Board of Research!America and I salute them for their outstanding public service, dedication to research and regular participation in our forums and other programs.