Tag Archives: funding for research

Speak up or Watch out: Why medical research is at risk with Sequestration

It’s all over the news: The federal government is headed for significant, across-the-board budget cuts. Sequestration, or 10 years of automatic spending cuts, is a self-inflicted consequence passed by Congress, aimed to be a drastic outcome of failing to agree on a federal deficit-reduction package. Some Members of Congress argue that the sequester will not have a significant impact; they claim that the 5.1% cuts made in 2013 are only a drop in the bucket and there is no need to worry. However, the amount of money that the National Institutes of Health will lose, $1.56 billion, could fund the entire National Institute of Mental Health for more than a year. Cuts to the National Science Foundation total $359 million, more than 80% of the entire FY12 budget from NSF for homeland security research, including emergency planning and response. Research!America’s fact sheet on the effects of sequestration on these agencies, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control can be found here.

What will cuts to NIH, NSF and other agencies mean to biomedical and health research?

The NIH and NSF fund the basic science that fuels medical innovation and the health services research that enables smart policy making by all levels of government and by health care providers in support of high-quality health care delivery. The CDC funds an enormous range of research and public health services essential to the basic health and safety of Americans. Cuts to these agencies will compromise medical progress, stymie deficit reduction and render it more difficult to reinvigorate our economy. Cuts to public health funding, which is already inadequate, will degrade the foundation for safe and healthy communities across our nation. In short, these cuts will have dramatic impact on the health of our nation. Polls commissioned by Research!America consistently show that Americans highly value medical research and would even pay higher taxes if they knew the dollars would be devoted to that research. And we will never bend the health care cost curve without medical research to overcome disabling and costly conditions like Alzheimer’s and health services research to identify and evaluate viable and patient-sensitive cost savings strategies.

Finally, cuts to funding for biomedical and health research jeopardize the product of years of investment in our nation’s research capabilities. Those investments have produced the most sophisticated and productive medical research enterprise in the world. If funding declines, so will opportunities for young scientists. So will the capacity for our nation’s researchers to break new ground. So will the pipeline that fuels private sector innovation and jobs.

Think about it: Advances in ongoing and promising medical research will invariably be halted due to a lack of funds for these projects. One such project is ongoing research at Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC. There, researchers have worked for years on a preventative strategy for breast cancer focused on anti-estrogen treatment, and this work is ready to move into clinical trials. Without funding, this lifesaving research could be halted. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the frequency of metastatic breast cancer is on the rise in young women, a troubling trend in light of the threat to biomedical and health research funding.

So what can we do?

Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them how important it is to STOP sequestration! Click here to send an email now.

Sign the petition from AAAS to “Speak Up for Science.”

Share these resources with your professional network, and encourage your peers to speak up for research now!

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Down to the wire

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.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley