A Weekly Advocacy Letter From Mary Woolley: Notably Absent From the Convention Dialogue, Week One

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate: 

The party conventions mark the official start to the general election. In Cleveland we heard rousing daily themes of “Make America (aspirational word) Again”. I kept hoping for “healthy” or “innovative,” aspirations we know rank high with Americans, but that was not to be. Nor -- at least as of this writing -- have any speakers addressed medical progress. Even so, the official Republican platform recognizes the importance of medical research and innovation for our economy and for patients. The Democratic platform, which will be adopted at the DNC convention next week, in fact makes similar points.  We’ll see if research and innovation make it into the convention conversation next week.

Unfortunately, there are some troubling tenets in both parties’ platforms; e.g., the Republican plan disparages fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell research, ignoring the important contributions that research has made, and the Democratic plan lasers in on prescription drug prices instead of promoting a systemic approach to addressing rising health care costs. These platform planks are a reminder that we have work to do on multiple fronts to ensure our nation does not get in our own way as we seek to optimize health, health care, discovery and innovation.

Our Campaign for Cures continues to encourage all candidates running for federal office to speak to the need for faster medical progress. With 430 plus candidates on the record to date, we are well underway.  To cast an even wider net, we have joined the online community Medium.com. Check us out there and sign the C4C pledge, review the interactive map and catch up on the C4C blog. Also be sure to follow C4C on Twitter and Facebook. Our goal is to ensure every candidate knows that medical progress is a priority for the American people. Help us get there!

We had a terrific turnout for our advocacy planning call earlier today -- as always, we value your insight and input! We are planning a month of advocacy in August to emphasize strong grassroots support for getting the 21st Century Cures Act across the finish line in September. Let’s ensure the 114th Congress doesn’t wrap up without completing its work to bolster medical discovery, development and delivery. The lame duck period after the election is by definition difficult to plan for and nothing to count on, so September is our best shot at getting a deal done and signed into law by the President. Look for details on how to join the first week of this push early next week.

On the call, we also discussed working together to make the case against a long-term continuing resolution (CR) for FY17. A CR shortchanges national priorities such as faster medical progress and Americans deserve better. The status quo is not good enough -- we need action. The same goes for Zika funding, the third topic we covered on the call. More advocacy strategies around Zika and fighting a long-term CR in future letters.

The newly released Voices of the NIH Community narrative series, created in partnership with the national oral history program StoryCorps, includes compelling examples from patients, caregivers, researchers, physicians, nurses and more, of why research matters. I know that you each have your own reasons -- it's time to voice them. Use our new advocacy page to easily create and send your own video to your members of Congress explaining your reasons for research.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

P.S. Save the date for our annual National Health Research Forum on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Registration is now open!

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor