Tag Archives: sequestration

Tell Congress to Protect Medical and Health Research

To protect medical and health research, policy makers must eliminate sequestration. This remains Research!America’s top-line message, because it is sequestration that poses the greatest threat to all discretionary funding, including medical and health research conducted by NIH, CDC, FDA, NSF, AHRQ, DOD … and the list goes on. Advocates for medical and health research have made a huge impact over the years on funding and policies supportive of medical and health research, including playing a key role in reducing sequestration in 2013. We are asking you to weigh in again to help address sequestration in FY14 and FY15.

On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the committee charged with establishing an overall budget number for FY14 struck a deal that would establish this top-line number for both FY14 and FY15. Under this agreement, the sequestration cuts would be reduced by $50-$60 billion over the two-year period (a reduction of approximately 30% each year). While this modest reduction is less than hoped for, it does signal progress in the fight against sequestration. The task now is to assure this or a better deal passes both the House and Senate by December 13.

Please contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to vote in favor of a significant reduction in sequestration for FY14 and FY15 as a down payment on eliminating sequestration.

Take action now.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Call in Friday morning to help change the national conversation

Dear Research Advocate:

Research!America, in partnership with the American Society of Hematology, released a new poll on Tuesday, revealing strong feelings about the consequences of recent fiscal debacles. A majority (57%) of Americans, across party lines, believe that the government shutdown in October caused significant harm to programs like medical research, defense and education, programs that Americans value. It is not difficult to connect the dots between fiscal dysfunction and the future of our nation: More Americans than ever believe that our nation’s global leadership in science, technology and research will soon be a thing of the past,with 73% saying we will lose global leadership by 2020 — just six years from now. A plurality says China will surpass us by then. This perception is not far off base. China and other countries, including most recently Mexico, are making major commitments to their research and innovation infrastructure. They are determined to drive their economy and contribute to health and prosperity by following what was for years the leadership example set by the U.S.

Last month, following President Enrique Peña Nieto’s leadership, the Mexican Congress increased the budget for the primary national science and technology agency by 20% for 2014 and increased the nation’s overall science budget by 12%. Battelle predicts that China’s dramatic increases in federal research spending have positioned the nation to overtake the U.S. in total R&D investment within a few short years. It’s high time we match the bold visions of Mexico, China and many other nations. Continue reading →

Majority of Americans Believe Another Government Shutdown Likely in Coming Months; Last One Harmful to Medical Research

New National Poll Reveals Many Respondents Predict China will Surpass U.S.
in Science and Innovation by 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—December 3, 2013—Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say it’s likely there will be another government shutdown in the months ahead as Congress continues to debate deficit and budget issues, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the American Society of Hematology. This sentiment is shared across party affiliations: Democrats (66%), Republicans (65%) and Independents (65%). There is also consensus across party lines that government dysfunction has consequences. A majority of Americans (57%) say the shutdown in October caused significant harm to many government-funded programs including medical research, defense and education. Democrats (68%) and about half of Republicans (49%) and Independents (51%) agree.

On the topic of sequestration, a plurality (44%) says Congress must tackle tax and entitlement reform to reduce the deficit instead of continuing the 10 years of across-the-board cuts; another 16% say sequestration is not the right way to reduce the deficit. Less than a quarter (23%) believe the across-the-board cuts are a way of ensuring that many government programs share the pain, and 17% say they’re not sure. In general, 62% of Americans say they’re concerned about the long-term effects of sequestration on advances in health care such as the development of new drugs and other treatments.

“Our poll demonstrates uneasiness among many Americans about the ramifications of deep spending cuts to programs that are critical to our health and well-being,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Americans want Congress to reach a budget deal that protects medical and health research, at least in part because of concern that our nation is at risk of losing our global leadership position in science and innovation.” Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: No Longer the Envy of the World (Part 2)

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday I learned that China is offering to pay full freight for students from developing countries who are interested in receiving their university degree in China. China is also, as you know, investing hand over fist in research and development, life science research in particular. Juxtapose China’s science, STEM education and science-diplomacy policies with U.S.policies: we don’t seem to have them!  And contrast their funding strategy with ours: we’re disinvesting while they’re planning to outspend us within the next five years.

So why does it matter where science is pursued? Why does it matter if the U.S. focuses on other priorities for awhile or forever, given the way we’re going? You can fill in the answer as easily as I can. We need jobs; innovation produces them. We need to cut the deficit; tackling chronic disease is imperative to that goal, as is a healthy industrial base — and without innovation, neither is possible. And so on and so on.

The question is how to wake up policy makers to the havoc they are wreaking on our nation. As regards to the big picture, there is a glimmer of hope in that a group of Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to the Budget Conference Committee asserting the need for a return to an actual appropriations process so that government funding will once again reflect American priorities. Consequence-blind, across-the-board cuts (aka sequestration) are not the only threat to research, but they are the biggest. Appropriating, rather than bickering, is a good first step toward prioritizing R&D funding. A second letter, initiated by Research!America ‘s 2013 Whitehead awardees Senators Bob Casey and Richard Burr, and signed by 33 Members representing both sides of the aisle, urges the Conference Committee to assign NIH funding the priority it deserves.

Our goal is that 100 Senators would sign such a letter and that it would cover much more than NIH funding! Realizing such a goal for all members of Congress is what motivates us in our election year voter education work. We will soon launch our 2014 national voter education initiative with inside- and outside-the-Beltway strategies designed to ensure that both voters and candidates know that Americans’ way of life depends on research and development, which in turn depends upon a governing process that works. The people who report to Americans should do right by them, putting research and innovation to work to find the solutions to the nation’s ills; dismantling our innovation infrastructure and discouraging the talented women and men who make use of it is taking us in the wrong direction as a nation.

Thanksgiving is approaching, and one of the many reasons to give thanks is that I am blessed to partner with visionaries with the drive, dedication and talent to reverse the decline in U.S. science. Research champion Paul Rogers said, “Without research, there is no hope.” You are literally keeping hope alive, and for that I am so grateful.

Grateful and asking for your partnership once again. Please add your voice to the growing chorus promoting Public Health Thank You Day (Monday, November 25th) and heeding its message. The York (PA) City Bureau of Health director, Barbara Kovacs, was outspoken in her letter to the editor of the York Daily Record honoring the unwavering efforts of public health professionals to protect our nation every day. The Beaufort County (NC) Health director, James A. Madson, weighed in with his letter to the editor as well. The Vanderburgh County (IN) Health Department will be hosting a Health Fair to provide free screenings for all residents. Please follow their lead and host an event — large or small, it will matter — or write an LTE, press release or social media post. Our online toolkit will help you craft your Public Health Thank You Day messages. And speaking of critical public health work: If you weren’t able to join last week’s event surrounding Chagas disease research and development, check out PAHO’s full video coverage of it here. Chagas isn’t some remote threat to our nation; it’s one of many emerging challenges that we rely on our public health infrastructure, as well as our talented scientific community, to confront and defeat.  We can’t take the public’s health for granted for another day.

We’re taking a few days off next week to spend with family. I’ll be in touch again the first Thursday of December. A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Moving from the Envy of the World to the Puzzle of the World

Dear Research Advocate:

NIH Director Francis Collins was recently interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article that would reinvigorate even the weariest research advocate. Dr. Collins captured the legacy and unprecedented potential of research for health, as well as the counterintuitive neglect of it, in a truly compelling manner. Dr. Collins made similarly captivating comments yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum: “We’re going from the envy of the world,” he said, “to the puzzle of the world. Other nations are mystified that we have stopped following our own playbook — the one they are using now to drive their economy and improve health and quality of life for their own populations.”

Of course they’re mystified. Policy makers are setting Americans up for needless suffering and America up for decline. It’s past time to follow the lead of, for example, the Australian government; despite battling austerity, it has announced an increase in funding for the Australian Research Council’s research grants. And Australia is not alone — China is now on track to overtake U.S. spending (actual spending and as a percentage of GDP) within five years. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Winning Hearts and Minds and Votes

Dear Research Advocate:

It has been a week since the Budget Conference Committee’s first meeting. The next public meeting is scheduled for November 13. Staffs are at work, and various Members are talking. There are no concrete signs of progress. What I keep coming back to is the failure of our nation’s decision makers to recognize and act on the reality that the priorities of Americans are reflected in both discretionary and entitlement programs. The persistence of sequestration underscores Congress’ inability to make decisions and choose priorities. The sequestration era has run its course, dealing Congress record lows in terms of public support; it’s past time to end the era and move on.

Recently I shared my letter to the Budget Conference Committee; it argued for an end to sequestration, pointing out the importance of investing in medical research as a pragmatic strategy for decreasing the national debt and deficit. This week I followed up with a letter on the importance of health research, pointing out how it helps identify smart medical innovation and optimal health care financing and delivery. The letter showcases the essential role of health economics, health services, public health, behavioral and social science research in assuring quality medical innovation and smart health care delivery. We are concerned that if the research stakeholder community at large does not speak out for this critical research, it will be compromised or even defunded altogether. Please join us in raising your voice. Continue reading →

Don lab coats

Letter to the editor by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

mary-woolley-webBy visiting a University of Pennsylvania research facility last week, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) underscored his commitment to making research and innovation an immutable national priority (“Scientists reeling from budget cuts,” Oct. 24). Adequately supported, research will allow us to overcome major health threats and drive the economy.

Americans have taken notice that research support is waning and, in addition, say they are concerned that officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to deadly diseases, polling done for our nonprofit advocacy alliance, Research!America, shows. If elected officials aren’t paying attention, who will lead the charge to assure robust funding for research now and in the future? Too many lives hang in the balance if we take medical progress for granted. Cures and treatments for deadly and disabling diseases can’t wait out nine more years of sequestration.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Forty-three days and counting

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, the Budget Conference Committee, chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-01), met for the first time. The committee only has until December 13 to accomplish its task of producing at least a short-term budget. Expectations are modest considering the short timeline, the House and Senate recess schedules, and the number of issues declared “off the table.” There is some talk of replacing sequestration, at least for the remainder of FY14, with selected cuts. In order to assure that research is not cut and in fact is prioritized for an increase, many stakeholders must speak up. It is essential that our issue is discussed as a priority every day in this 43-day countdown — in the media, in hometown districts, by staffers and by our elected officials. Please be sure to speak out. Urge your Members of Congress to advocate on your behalf — and on behalf of all who are depending on research for health — to their colleagues on the Budget Conference Committee.

Sequestration really must go! Useful facts to bolster our case about how sequestration is stalling scientific R&D in this country — to the detriment of business and consumers alike — is now at the ready. Columnist Gerald F. Seib of The Wall Street Journal points to many consumer products and their components that have origins in federally supported basic research, adding billions of dollars to our economy over the decades. And the Science Coalition has released a new report Sparking Economic Growth 2.0 highlighting 100 companies whose beginnings were aided by federally funded university research. Think of Google’s roots in NSF funding and Genentech’s in NIH, for just two prominent examples. The report describes the role these research-based companies play in bringing transformative innovations to market, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth. It’s all too easy to forget, once a business is thriving, how taxpayer funding helped them get its start. Continue reading →

It’s Time to Kick Sequestration to the Curb, Not Down the Road!

Urge your Members to protect medical research in upcoming Budget Conference Committee discussions

Sequestration’s arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts to defense and non-defense spending have ravaged (and will continue to ravage) our research enterprise. The Budget Conference Committee, which was negotiated as part of reopening the government and preventing the U.S. from defaulting on debts, has an opportunity to replace sequestration as they develop their “long-term budget solution” by December 13. Sequestration is rendering it virtually impossible to maintain, much less increase the budgets of NIH, NSF, FDA, and CDC; if it is not stopped, their budgets will almost certainly decline for the next nine years, regardless of scientific opportunity, public health needs, or the preferences of Americans.  Funding cuts are stopping highly promising research in its tracks, squandering exciting new potential for treatments and cures for millions of Americans who are waiting for them.

Deficit reduction is important, but there are ways to achieve it that do not compromise American lives and American competitiveness. Arbitrary budget cuts that abandon medical research are wrong, and it’s time we kicked them to the curb and not down the road!

Take action now.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Moneyball

Dear Research Advocate:

Just in time for the World Series, a national campaign to make evidence-based government spending decisions has been announced. Moneyball for Government, a project of Results for America, advocates prioritizing limited taxpayer dollars by investing strategically in what works, eschewing “gut level” instinct for metrics-driven decision-making. Stakeholders in medical and health research sometimes have difficulty measuring or agreeing on metrics that matter; it’s time to work through this challenge so that when stakeholders talk about research accountability — in the current budget conversations or in any context — we can speak with one metric-driven voice to emphasize the returns on research investment in both lives and money saved.

Research!America is working to assure our message is in the forefront of the bipartisan Budget Conference Committee’s deliberations. We have written to the committee expressing the importance of investing in medical and health research to address the national debt and deficit. We urge the committee to eliminate the sequester; it continues to take a toll on our economy and our society, in part by eroding our capacity to innovate in the medical and health fields. Please join us in reaching out to your representatives to share the importance of prioritizing investments in research. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Brink and Blink, and repeat…

Dear Research Advocate:

After 16 costly, wasteful days, the government has been funded through January 15 at post-sequestration, FY13 levels — hardly adequate for providing the solutions the American public awaits. A bicameral, bipartisan budget committee has been charged to develop a long-term deficit reduction plan by December 13. If these marching orders sound familiar, they should: We’ve been down this road before, only this time sequestration isn’t the threat at the end, it’s embedded in the negotiations. As tempting as it is to give in to brinksmanship fatigue and just tune out the process, advocates must seize the opportunity to make sure our issue remains front and center, that it becomes impossible for lawmakers to ignore. Sequestration must go; research and innovation must be an immutable national priority, supported at the level of scientific opportunity that will allow us to overcome health challenges and continue to drive the economy.

We are pursuing every opportunity to make the case on behalf of our alliance. Yesterday, I was privileged to join an impressive group of speakers, including Leon Panetta, at a “stop the madness and do your job” press conference sponsored by the Campaign to Fix the Debt. Among the strong points emphasized by former Secretary Panetta, who also served as White House chief of staff, congressman and OMB director, was a call for long-term — he suggested five years — thinking and budgeting for non-defense discretionary spending. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Does Congress care if Nobel laureates of the future are put at risk?

Dear Research Advocate:

Like most Americans, we are alarmed by the ongoing government shutdown. Since the shutdown began, I have been in Georgia, Massachusetts and Ohio, speaking to business and academic leaders, state and local elected officials, philanthropic leaders, and working scientists. Everyone is outraged! Clearly, biomedical and health research — already compromised via sequestration — is not the only priority placed at risk by the impasse, but it is a critical one. From limiting access to clinical trials to undermining the ability to protect our food supply or investigate disease outbreaks, Americans are put at unnecessary risk when government employees are furloughed. We sent letters at the end of last week to Members of Congress and the president, urging action. We received responses from offices on both sides of the aisle: Many spoke passionately of their support for medical research; some hewed the party line; others lamented the budget impasse.

We are doing everything we can to keep the spotlight on the damage done to medical and health research when the government is shut down. When the public and its policy makers look back on the 2013 shutdown, we want them to remember which government functions most tellingly exemplified the cost — fiscal and societal — our nation incurs when the ability to function is derailed. Continue reading →

Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Government Shutdown

Recent polling commissioned by Research!America shows nearly half of the American public does not believe we are making enough progress in medical research in the U.S.; the government shutdown proves them right. The shutdown shows where the real deficit is: in the failure of elected officials to take action to fund American priorities. The deficit seems to be a deficit of common sense! It’s inconceivable that our nation’s research ecosystem, the catalyst for addressing current and emerging health threats, is being hamstrung by the inability of our elected officials to reach a budget agreement and end indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts. The research pipeline has already been deeply warped under sequestration, heightening the anxiety of Americans concerned about the future of their health. It’s time for lawmakers to put aside ideological differences and take decisive action in short order to sustain funding for medical and health research. Too many lives hang in the balance as partisan politics continue to take precedence over the essential work of legislating.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley- Warning: A government shutdown could be dangerous to your health

Dear Research Advocate:

Congress is on the brink of forcing a government shutdown on Tuesday, October 1. The implications of a shutdown are being subsumed by coverage of the political theater taking place. That is an injustice to Americans, who will be affected.  History is illustrative on this point.

During the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, the NIH turned away new patients at the Clinical Center. Research studies housed at federal institutions ceased for the duration of the shutdown; researchers and leaders of industry, academia as well as in government agencies were unable to plan effectively, wasting time and money; the CDC was forced to stop disease surveillance programs, leaving us unacceptably vulnerable to emerging health threats and even pandemics; NSF could not release grant funds, resulting in a backlog of thousands of proposals, and those were just a few of numerous effects. Compounding the impact this time around is the costly toll that sequestration — on top of a decade of stagnant funding — has already taken in undermining the promise of research and innovation.

A recent New York Times op-ed by Thomas Friedman that was published in other newspapers underscored for me exactly how high the stakes are right now, and a Roll Call op-ed by Morton Kondracke provides additional context.  These two voices are prominent among this week’s sampling from an increasing number of informed individuals who are articulating what all the trends show:  the US is on a path to scientific, and potentially general, decline.  Add to this that the US is already ranked far below where we should and aspire to be in health indicators.  The question is:  why are these twin realities not receiving more attention from our elected officials? Too few Americans are demanding common sense from Washington; please raise your voice louder and longer, and do it now. Then urge everyone in your network to do the same.  Help us deliver this message to your members of Congress — we want #curesnotcuts! Continue reading →

Budget sequester squeezes scientific research

Excerpt of an article by Ariana Eunjung Cha, published in the The Washington Post.

A year ago, Yuntao Wu was on a roll. The George Mason University researcher had just published a study hailed by the scientific press as “groundbreaking” that reveals why HIV targets only a specific kind of T-cell and, separately, found that a compound in soybeans seemed to have promise for inhibiting infection.

These days, Wu — one of thousands of scientists who lost his grant in the wake of sequester cuts — says he spends much of his time hunched over a desk asking various people and organizations for money.

The deep across-the-board cuts in government spending that took effect March 1 have sent shock waves through the nation’s research labs, delaying research and forcing layoffs.

The budget for the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest funder of biomedical research, shrank 5.5 percent. The National Science Foundation budget was trimmed by 2.1 percent. Research funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NASA, the defense and energy departments, and other parts of the government that conduct research also were cut significantly.

The sequester has affected all parts of the government but the impact has been especially painful to those in biomedical research, where federal investment in inflation-adjusted dollars has decreased every year since 2003.

Describing the scientific and medical community as “deeply demoralized,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in an interview that the budget cuts are delaying innovation and resulting in more American lives being lost. Continue reading →