Tag Archives: fiscal cliff
Dear Research Advocate,
Sequestration is barreling down on us. With the clock ticking to March 1, there are disturbing indications that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are prepared to let sequestration move forward. It sounds much too painless to make cuts to a category called “discretionary” — the very word invites belt-tightening — not to mention that this blanket term masks the importance of the programs that would again be damaged (the Budget Control Act took the first swipe at them, and the fiscal cliff agreement, the second). We need to unleash the power of advocacy to put human faces on the rhetoric. We know the reasons research can’t be cut without severe consequences, but do your senators and your representative? It is especially timely to stress the point, made more critical as we heard the news about a decline in GDP, that boosting research investment catalyzes a growth economy.
In this time of critical congressional decision-making, we are very pleased to report that two champions for research, Senator Burr (R-NC) and Senator Casey (D-PA), will join us at our March 13 Advocacy Awards dinner to receive the Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy. Senators Burr and Casey, have — individually and as a bipartisan team — worked extremely hard to promote a robust medical research pipeline in the U.S. and to ensure patients receive new, safe and effective treatments and technologies on a timely basis. Please contact Carol Kennedy if you would like more information about the Awards dinner. Click here to see a full listing of this year’s honorees. I do hope you can join us!
The Huffington Post carried two excellent articles in support of research funding. Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein of Cedars-Sinai describes the impact of NIH research and urges Congress to avoid the “blunt ax” of sequestration. Dr. William Talman from the University of Iowa writes of the eroding buying power of NIH, which shortchanges all Americans on the return on investment and better health that result from discovery. Inside the Beltway, The Washington Post published a piece by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, urging Congress to “invest in what’s next.” Dr. Jackson describes the profound impact that advances in science and technology have had on our lives, many of which would have been impossible without federal support.
While the U.S. is contemplating cutbacks to science, Japan is the latest nation to announce multibillion dollar research investments as part of a concerted plan to jumpstart their innovation economy. This is a significant reversal from three years ago when Japanese lawmakers proposed deep cuts to science as part of a budget control plan. Proposals then led to protests from renowned Japanese researchers — a lesson for those who wish to keep funding for research growing even in an era of austerity. The change in the attitude of policy makers, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, can be surmised from his recent quote, “Of course we must aim for number one.” It’s time for stakeholders in the U.S. to do more to prevent counterproductive cuts to our own research enterprise and to assure we maintain our global leadership. I recently participated in a panel convened by the Parkinson’s Action Network that brought out the value, as well as the how-to, of advocacy. You can watch the just-released video here.
Dear Research Advocate,
The two-month reprieve from sequestration agreed to as part of the “deal” to avert the fiscal cliff is a partial victory for all who worked hard to save research, giving us much-needed additional time to make our case. We need be smart in using that time well, because the delay was paid for through a combination of new revenue and spending cuts that could further drain the pool of dollars used to fund research. The fact that many conservative members of Congress expressed outrage that the fiscal cliff deal didn’t include larger spending cuts underscores this point. The debt ceiling will need to be raised within the next two months, adding fuel to the fire. And efforts to pass a budget for fiscal year 2013 rather than rely on a full-year continuing resolution throws another variable into the mix.
The bottom line is that the scenario for the next few months leaves science quite vulnerable, as reported in Scientific American, in which Research!America VP Ellie Dehoney is quoted. The palpable uptick in articles and opinion pieces raising awareness about the ongoing threat to research from a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Huffington Post piece by Research!America Board member Dr. Victor Dzau, president and CEO of the Duke University Health System, must continue; in fact we have to go into overdrive. In my last letter, I shared a CBS Evening News segment we worked to arrange about the impact of sequestration – I’m told it has gone viral! Please keep the momentum going by sharing it with your networks.
As you may know, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) has been named chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. Rep. Kingston previously chaired the subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration. He was supportive of increases for FDA despite the budget-cutting pressure that faced the 112th Congress. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) has been named chairman of the agriculture subcommittee. Rep. Aderholt has demonstrated an interest in combating disease and disability. We look forward to working with these leaders and their Democratic counterparts to secure the resources that research-related agencies need to fulfill their multi-faceted missions.
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, the White House is looking for feedback on anti-violence strategies from organizations in the mental health community. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that the deadline is January 5. The Cure Alliance for Mental Illness has launched a petition calling on Congress and the president to increase funding for mental illness research. Our community will have an important role to play in ensuring that time does not dilute the urgency behind efforts to reduce violent acts like that in Newtown. Research is undoubtedly part of the answer.
Dear Research Advocate,
Since I wrote with a note of optimism last week, Speaker Boehner was unable to hold his caucus, and both houses of Congress summarily recessed. As of today they remain at a virtual standoff, with the House calling for passage of a bill to extend all tax cuts and the Senate calling for passage of a bill to let rates expire on families making more than $250,000 per year. The current 112th Congress and the White House are unlikely to come to terms on a deal this year. And now the rhetoric has changed to describing a fiscal cliff effect that isn’t irreparable (thus “bungee jumping,” per a Bank of America economist), with the Administration using damage-delay maneuvers until the new Congress springs into action in the first weeks of 2013. Or maybe things will drag on for months, again? Clearly, “deadlines” have lost their meaning; politics trumps all. Perhaps the markets will force action as they did over TARP. For all of us, stakeholders in research — patients and caregivers, researchers, universities, and industry — the message is that elected officials continue to ignore our interests.
On a positive note, increased media attention to the impact of the fiscal cliff has provided opportunities for researchers to describe the very real consequences of deep spending cuts. In response to an interview request from CBS News, we asked Dr. Kerri Mowen of the Scripps Research Institute to describe how medical research would be affected by the fiscal cliff for a segment that aired on the CBS Evening News on Christmas Eve. Stories like this are crucial for maintaining the drumbeat on the consequences of budget cuts from both a health and economic standpoint. Fewer grants mean fewer discoveries and massive job losses at research facilities and industries nationwide. “Cliff diving” will rupture the drug discovery pipeline and hinder medical progress, an outcome most Americans fear and dread, according to our polls.
We must start the new year with a renewed focus on personalizing the reasons research should be prioritized. The health and well-being of Americans is at stake. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions a pledge to do more to engage lawmakers and the general public. We can help; call on us early and often!
Dear Research Advocate,
Progress toward a deal to avert the fiscal cliff seems now to have been reversed, with talk today of reintroducing aspects of the Ryan budget — more severe than sequestration. Holidays or not, this is no time to let up on our individual and collective advocacy for research. Reps. Fudge (D-OH) and Stivers (R-OH) are leading a bipartisan sign-on letter, urging Congress to take into account the critical importance of NIH in any deficit reduction plan. Take action and urge your representatives to sign on! For those of you in Ohio, if you would like to thank Reps. Fudge and Stivers for their efforts, you may obtain their contact information here.
In addition to ensuring sufficient federal funding for research, the government must provide a tax and regulatory environment that is pro-research and pro-innovation. Last week, Research!America sent letters to congressional leaders and the president sharing information about significant contraction in the medical device industry that appears to be associated with the looming medical device tax. If our nation’s leaders truly believe that innovation is the path to lasting economic prosperity for our nation, then they must evaluate both funding and policy, including tax policy changes, in that context. Excerpts of the letters were quoted in CQ Healthbeat and POLITICO Pro articles.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died this week; reportedly, his last word was “aloha.” Sen. Inouye’s incomparable leadership and half-century of service to our nation will be sorely missed. As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he played a vital role in boosting funding for research. He was an ardent advocate of nursing and nursing research, as well as research focused on helping those in military service and our returning veterans.
We look forward to working with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who will succeed Sen. Inouye as chairman of appropriations. Sen. Mikulski received the Whitehead Award from Research!America last March. She was honored for her long-standing leadership and support for medical research, public health and prevention, regulatory science, and the physical sciences, as well as her support for research as a force for economic competitiveness. She is a champion of women’s health issues and has authored comprehensive legislation to accelerate research on Alzheimer’s disease.
As our nation continues to mourn the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, I am reminded that research has a role to play in keeping Americans safe through better understanding of how to assure public safety concerning guns, keeping in mind both government and individual responsibilities, and in better understanding mental health challenges. Our public policies should be evidence-based, and when we don’t have the evidence, we need the research to establish it. Research!America extends our deepest sympathies to the families affected by this incident.
It is indeed a time of reflection as to what should be the role of the government in assisting us as individuals — and as a society — in accomplishing our goals and living our values. Our nation and our elected representatives have a challenging time ahead, as does every advocate for research and every patient and caregiver. Let’s not let the year end without stepping up to the challenge, engaging our policy makers and putting research front and center.
All of us at Research!America wish you and yours a joyous holiday season.
Dear Research Advocate,
Are we heading over the fiscal cliff? You have probably seen the several public opinion polls saying most Americans now think it’s inevitable. (“Merry Cliftmas,” says Jon Stewart.) Our latest polling tracks with that of others — and adds a timely insight. Just when one might least expect Americans to voluntarily increase what they owe to Uncle Sam, more than 50% say they would be willing to pay $1 more per week if they were sure the dollars would go to medical research. See this finding and more in a new poll we commissioned to take the pulse of Americans at this high-stakes time in our history.
We have been asking about willingness to pay more in taxes for years now, but it is particularly relevant now while elected officials are talking about tax reform and so many people are rethinking the role of government. We hope that advocates will use our poll data, emphasizing that Americans believe research is a part of the solution to containing health care costs and a significant driver to our economy.
You’ve heard about the impact of the fiscal cliff (and possible solutions to it) on NIH and other agencies that support research, but what about the impact on private sector innovation? Our VP for policy and programs, Ellie Dehoney, points out that cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates could create a disincentive for venture capitalists to invest in new medicines. Read the full article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. New investment in biotech is already down significantly from last year, a trend that does not bode well for patients waiting for innovative treatments.
According to a new brief from the Center for American Progress: “Our national investments in research and development as a percentage of discretionary public spending have fallen from a 17% high at the height of the space race in 1962 to about 9% today, reflecting a shift in priorities of our government.” That’s disturbing, the authors assert, since research and innovation are powerful economic drivers. Public sector funding is slipping in a key area just when we need it most. For more on how innovation powers the economy, see a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: The 2012 State New Economy Index. Wherever your state ranks, its future economic success depends on robust investment now in the knowledge economy.
United Health Foundation and its partners have released the 23rd annual America’s Health Rankings — a wonderful resource that tracks key state health indicators across the nation, providing fuel for targeted public health strategies. Investing in research that will open more doors to prevention of obesity is just one of the answers to the call to action issued by the report and its accompanying release.
To help our federal leaders understand how very much is at stake right now, we must all get involved in illustrating the impact slashing research funding will have on individuals, families, careers and business. The AAAS has launched an initiative enabling you to submit a comment and/or a video about current threats to R&D funding, information that will then be used for advocacy. Please take a moment to add your voice!
Majority of Americans Doubt Congress and White House Can Resolve Budget Problems and Avoid Fiscal Cliff
Poll Reveals Deep Concerns Among Americans about Impact of Spending Cuts to Medical Research
Alexandria, Va.—December 13, 2012—Nearly 60% of Americans are skeptical that Congress and the White House will reach an agreement that will avoid the fiscal cliff, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America. More than 80% of Republicans, nearly 40% of Democrats and 65% of Independents say they are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” current negotiations will result in a deal. The findings reveal growing doubt among many Americans that Congress and the Administration will be able to make a deal that would avoid tax increases for most Americans and major funding cuts for federal agencies, including those that are responsible for funding medical research.
“Congress and the Administration must make bold decisions to address our nation’s deficit, but cutting funding for research should not be one of them,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. “We cannot afford to drain the research pipeline as other countries challenge our world leadership in science and innovation.”
An overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) say that medical research is important to reducing health care costs. And an even larger percentage (87%) believe that it is important that our nation support research that focuses on improving how our health care system is functioning.
Even in a challenging fiscal environment, Americans continue to place a high priority on biomedical and health research. Upon learning that the percentage of government spending allocated for biomedical and health research is roughly 1.5%, almost half of Americans (48%) believed that it was not enough. In fact, 54% would be willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional medical research. This comes as no surprise, as more than half (55%) of Americans do not believe that the U.S. is making enough progress in medical research.
“Our polling underscores support for a stronger investment in research — there’s no doubt that people want a cure, sooner rather than later, for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and so many other diseases and disabilities,” added Woolley. “In a time when difficult decisions have to be made, Americans overwhelmingly believe research and innovation should be prioritized.”
Other poll highlights include:
- More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) say that it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation.
- Nearly 70% of Americans believe that the federal government should increase support for programs and policies that would increase the number of young Americans who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- 66% of Americans, say they would be willing to share personal health information to advance medical research assuming that appropriate privacy protections were used.
- 68% of Americans say it’s important that the federal research and development tax credit is made permanent.
The National Public Opinion Poll was conducted online in December 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll had a sample size of 1,000, with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.2%. To view the poll, visit: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/December2012pollslides.pdf
About the National Public Opinion Poll
Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America’s polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.
Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.
Dear Research Advocate,
As our nation edges toward the fiscal cliff, the White House and House Republican leadership have been trading offers. The most recent Republican plan includes additional cuts to discretionary spending — another $300 billion. These newly proposed discretionary cuts are significantly less than the across-the-board approach of sequestration, but suggest that — absent a strong shift in the winds — more discretionary spending cuts will be part of any final, compromise plan. It is highly unlikely that any final plan will be hammered out until next year; the president indicated as much in remarks he made Tuesday. The best guess is that policy makers will coalesce around a small package that is designed to hold back the tidal wave of fiscal problems until the new Congress is in place, at which point sequestration will again become a possibility. Regardless of what scenario plays out — and no scenario is anywhere near certain — we must keep up the pressure.
The recent increase in media requests for stories of families, patients and researchers who will be directly impacted by the fiscal cliff is a positive development and an opportunity to increase awareness. Can you help identify individuals who can tell compelling stories now, before decisions are made, and proactively pitch stories to national and local media? You can do this on your own via social media and also work with the communications office of your society, association or institution. And if you or your organization have examples tracing federally funded research to private sector development, write an op-ed or letter to the editor and shine a spotlight on them! I’ll say it again — this is the time to speak out.
Here are a couple of great examples of recent media attention: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has published an op-ed by Dr. Larry Shapiro, Research!America Board member and dean of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He writes about the need for a bipartisan solution to deficit-reduction, one that does not hurt our health and economy. In The Tennessean, Dr. Jeff Balser of the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt writes about the chilling effect sequestration would have on biomedical progress, while discouraging a generation from pursuing careers in research. Columbia University Medical Center convened a press conference with congressional Reps. Nadler, Rangel and Maloney to urge policy makers to reject cuts to the NIH budget. Consider organizing a local press event — as is frequently said, all politics is local, and the best arguments for saving research are local, too.
Ellie Dehoney, our VP for Policy & Programs, was recently quoted in a CNN article, “10 ways falling off the fiscal cliff could hurt your health,” describing the impact of sequestration on vital medical research programs. Forbes has run an op-ed highlighting how the fiscal cliff would harm our innovation economy. The research community’s message is resonating, and all of us need to make sure all policy makers are hearing it, over and over again. Send your elected representatives an email TODAY.
We can have influence even when it may seem unlikely, simply by speaking up and relentlessly making our case. Click here to access a toolkit of advocacy ideas. Several organizations are utilizing YouTube to make the case — see examples here: American Society of Hematology, American Chemical Society. And Stand With Science is a student advocacy organization looking for signatures for their letter opposing sequestration. On December 10, Research!America will participate in the NDD (non-defense discretionary) Coalition’s day of action. You can, too — find more info on how to participate here — if you tweet on the day of action, be sure to use the hashtag #NoMoreCuts!
Dear Research Advocate,
Congress is back and there is talk of more stalemate, with support wavering for a deal to avert the fiscal cliff before the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner said early today that “no substantive progress has been made” on negotiations. Amazingly, inaction (going over the cliff) remains a possibility. The more likely scenario is a short-term fix that leaves the major decisions in the hands of the next Congress. In the midst of behind-the-scenes negotiations between congressional leadership and the White House, appropriators are talking about finalizing their bills before the end of the lame-duck session rather than waiting to revisit the current continuing resolution in the new Congress. They would likely use an omnibus appropriations bill, creating a vehicle for funding the damage from Superstorm Sandy. If this scenario plays out — and it’s a long-shot — it is possible that more cuts to research and other discretionary spending will be embedded in the omnibus.
This is yet another compelling reason to get involved now in research advocacy. At every turn in the current policymaking process, biomedical and health research is at risk. If you have not called your senators and congressional representative, now truly is the time. In addition, you can take advantage of the sample materials in our Save Research online toolkit to personalize op-eds, letters to the editor, social media messages and more.
If you do decide to speak up, you will be joining a movement that is gaining traction. For the first time ever, our community has been included in a list in an Associated Press article that features defense and oil and gas interests as those being heard in Washington. Indeed, a broad array of media has been picking up our story.
An op-ed in Politico co-authored by six former CDC directors urges Congress to maintain CDC funding amidst the deficit reduction negotiations. The piece highlights the critical role that CDC plays in protecting public health, citing the recent fungal meningitis outbreak. The directors register concern about a system so tightly constrained that it can’t respond to a crisis without compromising health in other areas. Further cuts would be catastrophic. A similar point about the dangers of compromising key public health capacity was made by Dr. Herb Pardes in an opinion piece in the New York Daily News. This is the time to state your case; tell the media, your elected representatives and anyone who will listen just what is at stake.
Dear Research Advocate,
By far the most expensive, and arguably one of the most divisive, election seasons in history is behind us. A lot of money was spent to find out that Americans continue to hold divergent views on many issues. We heard very little about research during the election because, in most ways, it is not a divisive issue; support is both bipartisan and grounded in common sense. The problem is that it can be taken too much for granted. At a time when Americans are looking for an end to standoff politics and want action on things we can feel good about as a nation, prioritizing research for health can be the perfect healing issue — something we can all be proud of. But let’s be clear: Action to prioritize research will only happen if we speak out to put it in the spotlight as policy makers regroup to address the fiscal cliff. We need to convince policy makers that prioritizing research is the smart thing to do as well — smart for job creation and to drive the economy, smart for assuring our global competitiveness, smart for patients, and smart for maximizing innovations that will save lives and drive down the cost of health care.
We must unite and speak with one voice that we need cures, not cuts! If you are not already on board our week of advocacy November 12-16, I encourage you to add your organization to our list of partners and engage your networks to participate in the various strategies that are planned, including a call-in day, a day for visits to district offices, an email-in day, and a Hill day entailing visits to a number of DC offices. All these strategies are supported by an inside-the-Beltway advertising campaign designed to get maximum attention. Click here to see the latest schedule of events for the week ahead. If you would like to sign up for the Hill day, have other events that you would like to include in the calendar, or would like more information, contact Ellie Dehoney at email@example.com. As an important part of this effort, we are circulating a sign-on letter urging Congress to prioritize research in a deal averting sequestration or any other plan for addressing the deficit. Read the full letter here, and contact Jordan Gates at firstname.lastname@example.org for an updated list of cosigners and/or to sign on. The deadline is fast approaching — be sure to sign today!
Post-election, it is instructive to take a look at the responses of various candidates who responded to Your Candidates–Your Health, our voter education initiative. I recommend taking a quick look at President Obama’s responses here, noting his commitment to doubling funding for federal research agencies. As a sampling of other responses take a look at those of Rep. Dr. Dan Benishek (R-MI), who held his seat, here. In Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy won a seat in the 4th District – judging from his responses here, he will be one of our new champions. Medical research champion Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is locked in a not-yet-called election in San Diego. For more on what this election means, be sure to attend our post-election event on November 15th.
I have had the chance to talk about the post-election prospects for research as they impact all the elements of the research enterprise on BioCentury This Week. This program can be viewed here. Maybe you will watch it with a copy of the latest (tomorrow’s) issue of Science magazine in hand. In the lead editorial, AAAS CEO Dr. Alan Leshner and I urge the science community — as individuals as well as through their institutions and associations — to speak out now to Congress or face the decline of research in this nation. This is not a time to hold back! As you reach out, make use of resources on the website for the Week of Advocacy, www.saveresearch.org, including op-ed and letter-to-the editor templates, sample tweets and a new fact sheet on the economic impact of NIH. There are also links to many extraordinary resources produced by FASEB, UMR, AAAS, Ad Hoc and many other organizations. We thank you all for uniting in saying to Congress and the administration: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!
Dear Research Advocate,
Sandy was a terrifying October surprise. The devastation in New York and New Jersey is extensive, and it will take a long time to rebuild and to heal. It’s a reminder that not everything is about the election. That said, it is impossible not to think about a major election theme — the role of government — and also to think about climate change, one of many science topics not being discussed in this election season. Yet decisions involving the future of science will be made by those elected. That’s why we need to turn up the advocacy volume as loud as possible after the election, when the lame-duck Congress and the administration, closely watched and influenced by those who are elected November 6, will work on a “grand deal” to avert the fiscal cliff. Even if nothing substantive is decided until the first quarter of 2013, the groundwork will be laid when the lame-duck Congress returns on November 13. Will you be heard then?
We are saving a virtual seat for you during the November 13-16 joint Week of Advocacy. Please join the growing list of partners working to make the biomedical and health research community’s Week of Advocacy a success — learn more on our conference call on Friday (details below) and/or contact email@example.com to become a partner. As you will see at www.saveresearch.org, we have produced an Advocacy Toolkit with a variety of resources including op-ed and LTE templates, editable scripts for phone calls to congressional offices, messaging points, social media messages, and a grassroots alert.
***A conference call about the Week of Advocacy will be held on Friday, November 2 at 3 p.m. EDT. Please dial in at 877-355-0068, using the code 64054826. We need your ideas and your participation — please join the call. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. ***
“No science; no growth.” This was the message of an important op-ed in The New York Times by Dr. Neal Lane, professor at Rice University, former NSF director and science advisor to President Clinton. Follow Dr. Lane’s lead and write an op-ed or letter to the editor for publication during our Week of Advocacy!
Science has not, in fact, been growing, explaining in part why the economy is so sluggish. Last week, we released our annual U.S. Investment in Health Research report. It has garnered widespread and continuing news coverage inside and outside the Beltway. For a glimpse of how this report helps make the local case, see a story from Examiner.com that explores how dwindling NIH funding could impede plans for economic growth in Alabama. The Burrill Report is also covering the report in a podcast that will be available Friday at this link. Clearly, cutting funding for research is not in the best interest of the nation overall, or of states looking to power local economies with biotech research and innovation. No one wins if science is cut!
Be sure to vote!
Research, Industry, Academic and Patient Groups Join Forces for Week of Advocacy to Save Research, November 12-16, 2012
WASHINGTON – November 1, 2012 – Research!America, along with several dozen patient, industry, academic and health organizations, has coordinated a Week of Advocacy to Save Research for the week of November 12-16, 2012. The unified campaign is intended to convince policy makers to champion medical innovation, rather than undercut it, as decisions are made to address the “fiscal cliff.”
The campaign — We Need Cures, Not Cuts —is designed to raise awareness about the importance of making biomedical and health research a higher national priority. The campaign will urge Congress to support funding levels and incentives that advance scientific discovery and expand private sector innovation.
“With so much at stake, research advocates must join forces to fight for lifesaving research, which is also a fight for American innovation and American jobs,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Together, we will work to persuade lawmakers to take a stand against arbitrary budget cuts in order to protect the nation’s health and maintain our global competitiveness.”
The organizations are combining forces to call attention to research as the underpinning of economic growth and medical progress as Congress takes action to address sequestration and other statutory challenges known as the “fiscal cliff.” The Week of Advocacy will include Capitol Hill meetings, print advertisements in Capitol Hill publications and Metro stations, policy forums, social media campaigns, call-in days, video campaigns, and other communications and grassroots activities. More information can be found at www.saveresearch.org.
Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.
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Dear Research Advocate,
Nine times. That’s how often the word “research” was used in Monday’s third and final presidential debate. Clearly, both candidates recognize the importance of research and the role it plays in keeping our nation competitive. The election and decision-making around deficit reduction will put this rhetoric to the test. I was thankful for the opportunity to contribute to an article in Nature on the outlook for research and the candidates’ sometimes competing, sometimes intersecting visions for our nation. Many indicators point to the need for a “grand bargain” to avoid the fiscal cliff we have talked so much about. Rumors have it that informal talks are taking place now and will go into high gear during the lame-duck session of Congress beginning November 13. This is a critical time, and I urge you to participate in the biomedical and health research community’s Week of Advocacy, taking place November 13-16. Check out our new webpage (www.saveresearch.org) and join us on a conference call this Monday, October 29 (for details, click here), to hear our plans and to brainstorm ideas on how to maximize our collective impact.
Money matters! Every year, we release our U.S. Investment Report, which tracks domestic spending – public, academic, industry, voluntary health organizations and philanthropic – on biomedical and health research. This year we not only look at the most recent investment numbers, but review the stakes going forward. On both fronts, the news is not good: 2011 saw a drop in overall investment – the first in a decade. And as you well know, the policy landscape is treacherous. Click here to view the report.
Every week, we are learning more about the local impact that sequestration could have on a sluggish economy. The state of Maryland, home to the NIH and Johns Hopkins University, is a powerhouse of research. It stands to lose a staggering $5.4 billion in federal funding under sequestration. That alarming statistic, which comes from a report produced by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was highlighted in a story by the Baltimore Sun. Another article, in The Scientist, cites a United for Medical Research (UMR) report to highlight the impact on California, which stands to lose 33,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in economic activity if sequestration goes forward.
If we are to help steer our nation in the right direction, researchers must commit to political advocacy. That was the top-line message from a piece published by Dr. Thomas Pollard, professor of cell biology at Yale University, in the journal Cell. The article provides an excellent introduction to the advocacy landscape and ideas for getting more involved – I hope you will circulate this piece to as many researchers as you can!
Dear Research Advocate,
The first presidential debate will be held Wednesday, October 3 at the University of Denver. This debate will likely be the only one in which health issues are discussed: Will the candidates talk about research and innovation in that context? This is our chance to speak up, whether they do (bravo!) or don’t (why not??). While watching, include the Twitter handle for the debates (@NewsHour) in your tweets, and afterwards, send a letter to the editor of your local paper. This is the final phase of our Your Candidates–Your Health voter education initiative. We know from experience over the years that all of us – stakeholders and advocates for research – become much more energized as the election nears. Be sure to join your colleagues and all fellow advocates in reaching out to the candidates you will see on your ballot on November 6. Tell them that knowing their views on our issues will influence your vote. In fact, don’t wait for the debate next week – follow this link and send your candidates an email today. Then, send the same link to three people you know, asking them to take action. Together, we can make research a campaign issue, building champions we can rely on in 2013 and beyond.
If you are looking for new arguments to make your case, we have recommendations for you. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has released a startling report about the long-term economic impacts of sequester, estimating that sequester could cost our economy between $203 billion and $860 billion in GDP! As if this weren’t bad enough, the cuts would result in 200,000 jobs lost in 2013 alone. You can find the full report here and watch the webcast of the report rollout here. An op-ed that appeared in The Week by former Sen. Bill Frist provides additional grist for the mill – he placed familiar statistics into context, making a compelling case for ensuring that medical research is a top national priority. One of many great quotes: “In 2010 alone, the most recent year we have accurate numbers for, medical research accounted for $69 billion worth of economic activity here in America and $90 billion worth of exports. Not to mention NIH funding alone created 480,000 new, good jobs. All in one year.”
In case you missed it, Dr. Francis Collins was on BioCentury TV this past weekend. It’s definitely a segment worth watching – Dr. Collins cites statistic after statistic demonstrating why it is so important to stop sequestration in its tracks. This Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET on WUSA-9 in the D.C. metro area, Research!America Board member The Hon. Mike Castle will be on the air on BioCentury to discuss what the future may hold for research. Be sure to tune in! Indeed, many of our Board members are actively advocating for research: “Speak up now or suffer the consequences later,” said Research!America Board Chair, The Hon. John Porter, at a forum convened by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) this week. Porter spoke about the consequences of apathy among scientists in a budgetary and political environment that poses dramatic risks for science, and again emphasized the importance of the coming election: “the most important in my lifetime.” Not the time for advocates to sit on the sidelines.
Several large pharmaceutical companies, including many Research!America members, have come together to form a new nonprofit to help streamline and accelerate the drug development process. Transcelerate Biopharma is the new outfit, based in Philadelphia. The aim is to develop a variety of standards to improve the efficiency of drug discovery, a pursuit that is notoriously costly and lengthy. See this recent Forbes article to learn more about Transcelerate Biopharma, ably led by CEO Garry Neil, formerly of Johnson & Johnson. In a note of synchronicity, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) released a new report urging FDA to speed approval of drugs for high-risk patients. For more information, read the article in the Wall Street Journal and see the full report here.
Finally, for an excellent overview of the “fiscal cliff,” see a new brief from Bloomberg Government, detailing implications for our economy and some insight into what our next Congress may look like.
A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Congress is heading your way – resist the temptation to duck!
Dear Research Advocate,
Just before leaving Washington for five weeks, Congressional leaders Harry Reid and John Boehner announced agreement on a continuing resolution (“C.R.”) to fund the government until March 2013. In what has become routine, appropriations decisions will be deferred far beyond the October 1 beginning of the federal fiscal year. The leaders’ agreement, motivated by the need to avert a government shutdown, would leave NIH, FDA, AHRQ, CDC and the NSF with steady-state budgets, which is at least a better outcome than proposals for cuts pending before the House right now. But don’t take your eye off the ball! All kinds of mischief is possible between now and March, including modification of the measure before Congress votes on it in September, and other detrimental funding decisions driven by the “fiscal cliff.”
The need for a C.R. is the latest signal to the citizenry that our government is dysfunctional. To the research enterprise, it delivers yet another message of instability. As Lilly CEO John Lechleiter reminds us in a recent Forbes article, the U.S. is now ranked second to last among 44 nations in a measure of the ingredients that power technological innovation. Taking a step toward reversing this course, the Senate Finance Committee took action on the R&D tax credit. That said, their proposal is a mixed bag. The credit would be reinstated for 2 years, which is a positive sign in the current budget climate, but none of the needed improvements to the credit would be made. Research!America will be weighing in on behalf of the strongest credit possible, and I hope you will do the same.
As you develop your message to those running for Congress, don’t forget to take a stand against micromanagement of science. A timely reminder of how our society can be hamstrung in coping with a difficult challenge is recalling that the CDC was prohibited, beginning in the late 1990s, from conducting research on preventing gun-related injuries. Take a moment to read a thought-provoking op-ed in The Washington Post by former Congressman Jay Dickey and Mark Rosenberg, president of the Task Force for Global Health. In the wake of the Aurora tragedy, the authors call attention to the need for research on gun-related injuries if we are to formulate evidence-based policies that will save lives.
For all these reasons and more, please take action in August – don’t take a break from the Congress while they are running for election – run right toward them to make our case! I urge you to attend town hall meetings, visit the home offices of your senators and representatives, stop by various campaign headquarters, and make your message heard. Please call me or Ellie Dehoney at 703-739-2577 if we can provide talking points, data or other materials that may be useful in your advocacy or if you just want to brainstorm ideas. I’ve been pounding on the importance of getting candidates on the record – this is absolutely essential to our cause. Please do your part via the Your Candidates – Your Health voter education initiative.
As part of our own outreach to campaigns, Research!America has been working with scientists and patients to produce short YouTube videos that illustrate the importance of research and to urge campaigns to participate. Take a moment to watch the researcher videos on our new webpage and share them with your networks. Then tape and send us your own! This is an opportunity to participate in “reality” media. And what could be more real than your own story – as a patient, a caregiver, a researcher or an entrepreneur?
P.S. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has scheduled a call to discuss the potential impacts of sequestration on funding for science and technology. The call is being held Wednesday, August 8th at 2pm – click here to RSVP.