Tag Archives: Joe Kennedy

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The Congress of Today and the Congress of the Future

Dear Research Advocate:

With only eleven days until the end of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30. The House is expected to vote on, and pass, a bill that does not include funding to administer Obamacare as part of their “CR;” the Senate and the President will not agree, thus almost certainly forcing a government shutdown.

The issue of what to do about sequestration is almost certainly not going to be resolved as part of negotiating this short-term CR. That means we must continue to fight for action, and there has been a flurry of advocacy on Capitol Hill. This included, but was certainly not limited to the inaugural class of our Postdoctoral Advocacy Academy, who visited their Members’ offices to share stories of how sequestration has impacted their work and careers. And yesterday, Research!America’s Chair, former Congressman John E. Porter, gave the “go get ‘em” charge at the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. Thanks to the leadership of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the day attracted more than 150 organizations, with more than 225 survivors and other advocates from more than 40 states descending on Washington. Also this week, the AACR released their third annual Cancer Report, demonstrating the tremendous return on the nation’s investment in basic research. Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Don’t Settle for the “New Normal”

Dear Research Advocate,

Yesterday, the House passed a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes this year’s cuts from sequestration along with an additional one percent across-the-board cut.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where we are likely to see higher funding levels than the House version, but with sequestration still in place. Congress seems anxious to avoid the brinksmanship and the government shutdown threats that have characterized past debates. While the less rancorous environment surrounding the CR is a welcome change, the complacency around sequestration is not.  As research advocates, we cannot let these cuts stand.

Sequestration isn’t a one-year cut, it is ten years worth of cuts, none of which are evidence-based.  We may be looking at the early stages of an elusive “grand bargain” as the president meets with Republican senators to discuss tax and entitlement reform – two key pieces for solving the deficit puzzle. Eliminating sequestration must be part of that bargain. In addition, we must ensure that funding for biomedical and health research, including the resources FDA needs to do its job, are assigned a high priority in fiscal year 2014. That should be reflected in the budget resolution and obviously in the FY 2014 funding bill.

None of this will be easy. Working together, advocates have raised the profile of medical research with policymakers and the media. We need to turn the volume up louder yet on it, while cultivating more champions in Congress.  Continuing to engage the media is part of that equation.  Some of the largest news outlets in the country including Fox News, NBC, and CBS, and a number that are new to our issue including Al Jazeera quoted Research!America when writing about sequestration’s impact on science. The Economist published a thoughtful piece about how cutting American health research will harm the world. Industry is adding its voice with an op-ed in Forbes coauthored by three legendary executives, including Research!America board member and former NIH director, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Marc Tessier-Lavigne of The Rockefeller University and P. Roy Vagelos, Chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. I also want to highlight a letter that Dr. Herb Pardes, Executive Vice Chairman at New York Presbyterian and Research!America board member, sent to the President.  He captures the very themes that will anchor our advocacy going forward.

At the same time as policymakers were cutting federally funded research dollars, researchers were delivering another astonishing breakthrough – the real possibility of a functional cure for HIV. This remarkable achievement, bringing us a step closer to a world free from the scourge of HIV/AIDS, would not have been possible were it not for NIH funding that supported the research and development of anti-retroviral drugs. The CDC is also in the news, with troubling warnings about the spread of “nightmare bacteria” – germs that can be deadly because they are resistant to traditional medicines.  As CDC works to track and halt the spread of these germs and fulfill the numerous other public health functions for which they are responsible, the agency is not only contending with sequestration. Over the past several years, CDC has been subject to some of the deepest cuts of any health agency. Our Nation is fast approaching a tipping point.  Are public health and safety and the progress borne of medical innovation priorities, or not?

As many of you already know our annual events are coming up next week! Please join us for the Annual Meeting (free of charge to members) to hear remarks from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), a freshman member of Congress who is already championing research, and also John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics. I hope to see you all at our Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner later that evening – seats are selling fast, but still available.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The $6 billion dollar election

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 edehoney@researchamerica.org. 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 jgates@researchamerica.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!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley