Dear Research Advocate,
With all eyes on the supercommittee you may have lost track of the stalled appropriations process. Two months into the fiscal year, Congress has not passed the nine remaining appropriations bills, including the LHHS bill, which contains funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. The House and Senate have not yet conferenced; they are miles apart in their approaches. While it is possible that Congress will bundle an omnibus appropriations bill in the next two weeks, the odds of this happening are diminishing by the day.
There is speculation that yet another continuing resolution will be enacted to take the government from December 16 through January 2012. During this ongoing period of uncertainty for agency budgets, cuts are being made to many funded research projects already in progress. We’re wasting time and money, with a new round of administrative actions resulting from each continuing resolution. Time to tell Congress: Let’s just pass the bill and get the research done! Patients are waiting; highly-trained scientists are reconsidering their career paths. What will you do to be heard? Prof. Kerri Mowen of the Scripps Research Institute has launched a petition to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health. Sign on to the petition TODAY and make your voice heard. After you sign, be sure to share with your networks.
Also on our radar, and hopefully yours: election season. I’m sure you agree that it is critical to get research on the agenda of the presidential candidates. George Vradenburg, co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s and Joel Maiola, former chief of staff to Sen. Judd Gregg, published a guest commentary in the Nashua Telegraph. The piece describes how Alzheimer’s disease has finally begun to emerge as a campaign issue, given that the disease has placed an overwhelming burden on our health and our health care system. Fortunately, “… more and more candidates are discussing Alzheimer’s as a national campaign issue.” But not enough are doing so as yet. As advocates, we all should be working to raise the visibility of health research in the presidential election. Please take a moment to urge candidates to participate in our Your Candidates–Your Health questionnaire. Send a message to the campaigns TODAY and ask them to respond. And write an op-ed for your local newspaper. If we want to protect and grow medical research funding, we cannot let up.
Today, December 1, World Aids Day provides a perfect opportunity to craft an op-ed or letter to the editor celebrating progress to date – AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence – and pointing out that it was the nation’s longstanding investment in research that changed everything 20 years ago. More research now can get us across the finish line and eradicate this scourge. With the science so close, this is not the time to make cuts.