Tag Archives: sequestration

Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley in Response to President Obama’s FY2016 Budget

We are pleased that the President’s FY16 budget proposal calls for the elimination of sequestration and starts an overdue conversation about better aligning resources for public health and medical progress, given their importance to the American people and to the health of our economy. It is critical that we ramp up initiatives that focus on precision medicine, Alzheimer’s, antimicrobial resistance and other growing health threats, but these investments should supplement, not supplant, the imperative of making up for a decade’s worth of lost ground. We believe that Congress and the White House can, and must, unify behind the vision encapsulated in the bipartisan Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. Medical progress is not just a health imperative, it is a strategic imperative, integral to national security, fiscal stability and economic progress. Leaders on both sides of the aisle clearly appreciate that the time is now to turn ideas into reality. It may be a truism, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Continue reading →

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Research!America urges the 114th Congress to Advance Top 5 Science Priorities in First 100 Days

Today, Research!America urged the 114th Congress to take action on five science priorities in the first 100 days of the legislative session in order to elevate research and innovation on the nation’s agenda:

  • United States Capitol BuildingAdvance the 21st Century Cures Initiative. Spearheaded by Representatives Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.),the initiative is a promising step in the right direction, focusing on speeding medical progress from bench-to-bedside by integrating patient perspectives into the regulatory process, modernizing clinical trials, and reducing red tape, among other things.
  • Repeal the medical device tax. A provision in the Affordable Care Act, efforts to repeal the medical device tax have garnered bipartisan support as policymakers and industry leaders raise concerns about the tax’s impact on jobs and innovation.
  • Enhance and make the R&D tax permanent. The credit, established in 1981, allows companies to deduct certain research expenses, but the short-term extensions have created uncertainty for businesses that rely on long-term planning for research investments.
  • Eliminate Sequestration. As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, sequestration has taken a significant toll on the research ecosystem, forcing institutions to scale back or eliminate important studies and cut jobs.  A two-year bipartisan budget deal for FY14 and FY15 reduced the cuts for those years, but the full sequester returns in FY16.

Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Are we on the right path to protecting innovation?

Dear Research Advocate:

The budget and appropriations process typically reveals stark differences in funding priorities among the two parties. And this year is no exception. House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08) introduced the Democrats’ 10-year budget plan this week, which stands apart from the Republican proposal introduced by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) most notably by ending sequestration. The Ryan budget, which won House approval today, is on its way to the Senate but is considered dead on arrival. Note that there’s still time to urge your Members of Congress to support medical and health research as this year’s appropriations process continues!

Teen “whiz kids” profiled in the latest issue of People magazine personify the future of science and medical innovation. Among them, Jack Andraka, who at age 15, created an affordable diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that provides results in five minutes. He faced tremendous obstacles securing funding for his breakthrough innovation, a problem we see all too often in medical and health research. Such ingenuity propels our best and brightest to take risks but the funding to support their revolutionary ideas is not within their grasp.

Discussing these innovative projects with candidates and elected officials is key to elevating science and technology in the national conversation. In Research!America’s newly released poll data summary booklet, America Speaks, Volume 14, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research. Now is the time to ask future and returning Members of Congress if they believe that medical progress is a high national priority as part of our new national voter education initiative Ask Your Candidates!, which was formally launched this week. More details about America Speaks and the campaign can be found here. As the number of lawmakers with a background in science diminishes, it’s more important than ever to engage with your representatives. Michael S. Lubell writes in Roll Call that if we don’t elect a new scientist in the upcoming elections, it will mark a six-year decline from five to two Members of Congress who have a PhD in a natural science.

National Public Health Week, which wraps up tomorrow, provides another opportunity to engage policy makers about the benefits of health research. Don’t miss our recent blog post celebrating public health — an often underappreciated facet of our research ecosystem.

A new video highlighting backstage interviews with our 2014 Advocacy Award Winners illustrates the passion and drive of these extraordinary leaders who have contributed greatly to medical progress. We encourage you to nominate individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation’s commitment to research for the 2015 Advocacy Awards.

As you’re aware, members of Research!America’s management team will guest-author this letter in Mary’s absence. This week’s author is Research!America’s vice president of communications, Suzanne Ffolkes.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Ffolkes

US Biomedical Research: We Must Reverse a Decade of Neglect

Excerpt of an op-ed by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation President Claire Pomeroy, MD, published in the Huffington Post.

PomeroyAs an HIV physician, I began my career early in the AIDS epidemic before effective antiviral medications existed. I held my patients’ hands as they cried when receiving their diagnosis and I went to their funerals. I saw hope in their eyes when new antivirals became available. And when protease inhibitors were licensed and “triple therapy” became the norm, I could help patients plan how they would live, rather than how they would die. Scientific breakthroughs happened only because of our nation’s commitment to biomedical research, but this power of research to make lives better is at great risk.

The decline of U.S. prominence in global biomedical research is upon us: The National Institutes of Health budget has been flat for 10 years and lost 25 percent of its purchasing power, sequestration cut $1.7 billion from the 2013 NIH budget and the 2014 budget is $714 million less than the level approved for 2013, the federal government shutdown prevented enrollment of patients into clinical studies and delayed clinical research protocols, and next generation researchers are taking ideas and talents to other countries. The U.S. sits on the sidelines as nations such as China and India increase research investment by nearly 20 percent while the U.S. drops by 5 percent.

The government’s failure to ensure significant ongoing support for biomedical research undermines the future of science and health in our nation and threatens a strategic driver of the economy. The call to action is clear: The research community must increase advocacy, develop novel research partnerships, and create new opportunities for young researchers.

Read the full op-ed here.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Breakthrough year?

Dear Research Advocate:

During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama acknowledged the important role federally funded research plays in maintaining our global competitive edge and referenced the harm done to basic science by sequestration. Using the example of vaccines, he highlighted the importance of applied research, not only for our health but for the strength of our economy. See my statement about the address here. For the president to succeed in achieving a “breakthrough year for America” — a theme in his address that he is repeating in appearances across the nation — we urge him to put science and innovation at the forefront. I emphasized this in a letter we sent to him today.

During the State of the Union Congressional Debrief sponsored by The Atlantic and National Journal, I asked Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) whether Congress would work with the president to undo the damage done to basic research. She said that she and others are working in a bipartisan way to assure that “America is the top nation for research in the world.” In an effort to combat the underfunding and underappreciation for federally funded science, our award-winning voter education initiative is launching shortly —  “Ask Your Candidates! Is Medical Progress a Priority?” It is critical that we all ask congressional candidates their views about assuring medical progress. I encourage you to participate in this important campaign as we enter the primary and then general election season.

Last week, the attention of the business community and other leaders was trained on Davos, Switzerland. Comments by Harvard economist Larry Summers at the World Economic Forum put U.S. underinvestment in medical progress into context. It’s a message worth repeating. “We are spending 25 [percent] less on research in the life sciences than we were five years ago. That is a deficit with huge human consequences. We have to move on from viewing deficits in terms of financial debt and focus on the deficits we are bequeathing to our children.”

Please join me in extending hearty congratulations to Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Edward Porter, who will receive the National Academy of Sciences’ most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal, at a ceremony this spring. This award, rarely given to a non-scientist, recognizes John for decades of advocacy on behalf of medical research and salutes his many accomplishments, including leadership in the Congress for medical and all scientific research, resulting in increased federal support of our nation’s science agencies.  He continues his leadership for science today!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Statement by Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on President Obama’s State of the Union Speech

January 29, 2014

It’s heartening President Obama chose to emphasize in his speech the significance of federally funded basic research and the need to undo the damage that has been done to it in recent years with deep spending cuts. The president used language the science community epitomizes – he spoke of working for “breakthroughs” and a nation motivated by opportunity. But actions speak louder than words. Congress and the White House must treat research and innovation as the health and economic imperative it has always been and invest in expanding our nation’s research capacity. It bears on business and job creation in both the research and manufacturing sectors; it bears on our nation’s ability to slow or stop the progression of disabling, deadly and federal deficit-perpetuating diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease; and most importantly, it bears on the quality of life for Americans now and in the future. Our elected officials must eliminate sequestration for good and support medical innovation at the level of scientific opportunity to ensure more breakthroughs in coming years.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Promising process; disappointing progress

Dear Research Advocate:

The omnibus appropriations bill about to become law demonstrates that bipartisanship and pseudo-regular order is achievable. We won’t know for sure if we have true “regular order” until Congress proceeds through the FY15 appropriations process in a timely manner — something that hasn’t happened for many years. The importance of regular order is that the public’s interests are heard from in hearings, and every Member of Congress participates in priority-setting instead of only having the opportunity to cast a single up-or-down vote. Regular order is worth working toward, since at least one priority we all care about did not fare well in the omnibus.

The omnibus has failed to fund NIH at a level that fully reverses the impact of sequestration on the agency’s baseline funding level, much less establishes a growth trend that can fully unleash the potential inherent in the sequencing of the human genome and other research breakthroughs. As Drs. Paul Stoffels and Alan Leshner make crystal clear in an op-ed in Politico Magazine, we can’t settle for “better than sequestration.” If our nation wants to thrive, we need to grow our investment in science. Between 2010 and 2013, U.S. federal investments in science fell to less than 1% (.82%) of the economy. That’s the lowest it’s been in 50 years! As you know, this comes at a time when foreign nations are rapidly ramping up their R&D programs and taking a page from our playbook. Remember that global competitiveness in medical research is a pivotal determinant of our global economic competitiveness overall. We aren’t just talking about the future of our scientific enterprise, we are talking about the future of our economy. Are we truly willing to cede leadership in global R&D? (See also our statement cited in The Hill and other media outlets, as well as my interview today with UDC.) Continue reading →

Statement by Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on Omnibus Bill

We applaud portions of the omnibus bill that support the nation’s research, innovation and public health ecosystem, which works to assure our future health and economic well-being. The growth in funding for the Food and Drug Administration, fueled in part by the common-sense return of the 2013 user fees, as well as the increases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Science Foundation are welcome news.

But funding for the National Institutes of Health has been kept well below the level of scientific opportunity. We must eliminate sequestration once and for all, and grow our investment in NIH in order to slow and halt the progression of diseases and disabilities ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes to traumatic brain injury. The appropriators have worked in good faith to move the nation forward.  But as long as Congress avoids the primary issues fueling our national debt – tax and entitlement reform – it will be difficult to invest robustly in solutions to our problems.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Back to regular order, sort of?

Dear Research Advocate:

Following the lead of Budget Chairs Murray (D-WA) and Ryan (R-WI-01), Appropriations Chairs Mikulski (D-MD) and Rogers (R-KY-05) are trying to end the recent string of continuing resolutions and craft a funding compromise that advances the nation’s best interests. Congress may miss its January 15 deadline for appropriations, but it won’t likely shut down the government. We anticipate a short-term extension of the deadline while appropriators in both chambers work to craft an omnibus bill that reflects today’s priorities instead of blind, across-the-board cuts. It’s about time, you’re thinking (and I agree!) that Congress gets back to “regular order.” Regular order includes listening to constituents, content experts and advocates. That’s where you come in. Here is a link to the appropriators and the contact information for their legislative directors (LDs). Emailing their LDs may be the fastest route to reaching the members themselves. Tell them that you endorse their determination to appropriate in keeping with national priorities — and tell them what your priorities are. Continue reading →

Medical Research is Far-Reaching. It Saves Lives, Provides Hope, Fuels our Economy and More.

Recently, progress has been made in Congress that must not be confused for victory but is momentum to be capitalized on. For instance, the bipartisanship and compromise that we’ve seen in Congress is the first step in a long journey that is necessary for medical and health research to flourish and which provides temporary relief from sequestration. Now is the time to carry forward.

Advocates cannot tiptoe around other far-reaching truths: Our global competitiveness is at risk, young scientists are leaving the profession as fewer grants are awarded, Americans are dying, health care costs are exploding, and the facts prove it. Investing in innovation, at levels set to match and exceed scientific opportunity, is the best way to improve the well-being (both health and economic) of future generations. Send a message to Congress now to maximize funding for agencies that sponsor medical and health research!

Take action now.

Resolved: Research for Health a Higher National Priority in 2014

Dear Research Advocate,

This is the time of year when many of us attempt to translate our successes, defeats, observations and unfulfilled goals into New Year’s resolutions. I have some thoughts about resolutions in the context of advocacy for research to improve health. I welcome your feedback as Research!America continues to fight for funding and a policy environment that propels medical and health progress forward.

1) We will not only push for pro-innovation policy making, we will push for policy making itself. In other words: leadership, bipartisanship and compromise. The recent bipartisan, bicameral budget action in Congress is a small step in the right direction, but it is just the beginning of a long journey. Without a clear vision of the future and a cooperative spirit across parties, across disciplines and across sectors, support for research will continue to stagnate.

2) We will not only fight to end sequestration and dispense with draconian budget caps, we will fight for tax and entitlement reform. Without the latter, some manner of assault on discretionary budget priorities is inevitable.

3) We will fight to ensure that the voices of Americans are heard when it comes to making research and innovation a higher priority. In launching our election-year voter education campaign, we will reach out to the hearts and minds of Americans nationwide, seeking media as well as policy maker and would-be policy maker attention to a topic that is taken too much for granted.

4) We will not lower our expectations. The budget compromise is a good thing, but the most essential thing is making research for health a much higher national priority. Other nations are doing this; why not the U.S.? We must not tiptoe around the truth: Our global leadership and competitiveness in the research arena is slipping away from us; young scientists crucial to future medical progress are leaving the profession (or moving to China); Americans are dying prematurely or living with chronic pain, severe mobility limitations and other profoundly challenging disabilities; and health care costs remain a difficult issue. Investing in an environment that empowers public and private sector funded research is the appropriate countermeasure to these grim realities; why is it being ignored? The most eye-opening report on the impending loss of U.S. global leadership that I have read of late is Michael Specter’s “Letter from Shenzhen” in the current New Yorker; it follows on my “Sputnik moment” LTE in The New York Times almost eerily, although this time it’s not about space science but the genome.

Our work plan for 2014 — the year Research!America marks as our 25th anniversary — is to work in close collaboration with our members and our colleagues in the advocacy community to build and execute strategies around these resolutions. Together, we will work to achieve higher funding for our federal health agencies; smart policies that empower, rather than impede, private sector innovators; and, most importantly, unleash the palpable potential for making unprecedented medical progress. Please join me in kicking off the new year by reaching out to policy makers, especially appropriators working against a tight deadline, with messages of resolve for 2014.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A 21st Century Sputnik Wake up Call

Dear Research Advocate:

The end of the year is a good time to think ahead and consider our nation at the end of the decade; how will we fare in the world order? My letter this week to the editor of the New York Times highlights poll data indicating that Americans don’t believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology by 2020. This data reflects opinions grounded in numerous media reports on China’s accomplishments and determination to lead the world in science. Chinese accomplishments in space of late and their plans for a space station in 2020 ought to be a 21st century “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. It should be a wake-up call to policy makers: get serious about fueling our nation’s underpowered research and education infrastructure if we expect to compete globally in the years ahead. As NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins noted in his Washington Post op-ed this week, we’re at a “critical juncture” in biomedical research. Do we pursue opportunities derived from recent medical breakthroughs or squander them with insufficient funding for research?  Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Pope Francis is the Man of the Year; do you know what the Word of the Year is?

Dear Research Advocate:

Here’s a holiday surprise! I am not referring to the budget deal, but to the fact that Merriam-Webster’s 2013 word of the year — determined via the greatest increase in online searches — is “science.” I find this to be refreshing news, providing evidence that interest in science is growing, which in turn is an indication of substantial room for researchers and research advocates to contribute to public understanding and support of science. We appear to have an opportunity ready for the taking to overcome the “invisibility” problem that contributes to holding decision makers back from assigning a higher priority to science.

And speaking of those decision makers, we have a budget deal! While modest at best, it is a starting point for bipartisanship in serving the public’s interest. We can build on this foundation. Please add your voice, as funding is being determined by appropriators. Click here to urge your Members of Congress to support robust funding for NIH, NSF, FDA, CDC and AHRQ. This week, we’ve released our annual Health R&D Investment report, which could provide new context for your messages. The report shows some gains in philanthropy, industry, and voluntary health association support for research but notes woefully inadequate federal funding, especially given what’s at stake for our health and our economy. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”– Nelson Mandela

Dear Research Advocate:

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Joint Budget Committee released a two-year budget agreement Tuesday night. The package involves $63 billion in partial sequestration relief over two years, offset by fees (not taxes!) and a wide variety of cost-sharing arrangements, AKA “pay fors.” While it remains unclear whether user fees will be subjected to any sequester in 2014 and 2015, the already-sequestered FDA user fees are locked up and cannot be used to accelerate medical advances. This is a missed opportunity that patients can’t afford. While not a perfect deal in many respects, the House is expected to approve the Murray-Ryan budget deal within moments, and the Senate is expected to pass it next week.

For the advocacy community, the overall budget number is important, but the appropriations process that follows is crucial. The funding levels for NIH, CDC and AHRQ depend on the funding allocated to the Labor-H subcommittee and the FDA on the Agricultural subcommittee. Since dealmakers have not dealt with tax or entitlement reform, this will involve robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it won’t be pretty. Decisions will be made soon, as Congress is working against a January 15 deadline. Please consider contacting your Members of Congress to urge them to weigh in on how funding is allocated to appropriators and, in short order, allocated by appropriators — ask them to maximize funding for NIH, CDC, AHRQ, FDA and NSF. A report released this week by United for Medical Research, featuring a collection of stories about the negative impact that sequestration has had on NIH as well as the impact on individual research laboratories, can help you make the case. Continue reading →

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Budget Agreement

December 11, 2013

The budget deal moves the needle in the right direction but not far enough. We’re gratified medical research and other non-defense discretionary programs will get a modicum of relief from sequestration’s bitter pill but it’s not enough to meet the expectations of patients waiting for new treatments and cures.  The budget deal also fails to address tax and entitlement reform, the main contributors to our deficit. Until policy makers tackle those issues head-on, we will continue to fund medical innovation at levels far below what’s necessary to maintain our competitive edge.