A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Evidence that advocacy works! And that more is needed…

Mary Woolley

The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee considered the next draft of the 21st Century Cures legislation this morning. New to the draft - demonstrating that advocacy works - is the addition of language calling for $10 billion for NIH in mandatory funding over five years.  This so-called ‘innovation fund’ is currently earmarked for precision medicine, young investigator awards, and an “other” category, yet to be specified. Please take a moment today to thank Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Joe Pitts (R-PA-16) and Gene Green (D-TX-29) for championing this landmark provision. 

This bill is not a finished product, and our statement (here) draws attention to a problem in it: no new resources for FDA, which could create an ‘unfunded mandate’ situation. We are continuing to review details of the 21st Century Cures draft - all 200 pages! Join us to compare notes at a discussion next Wednesday May 6 at 9:30AM. Space is limited, please email Ellie Dehoney at edehoney@researchamerica.org to RSVP.

More evidence that advocacy works: the final budget conference report negotiated by Congress this week includes a symbolically important deficit neutral reserve fund for biomedical research. Also this week, the Senate Labor-H Appropriations Subcommittee heard from Dr. Francis Collins and other NIH leaders about the Institutes’ FY16 budget request. Read our statement here. The drumbeat for greater NIH funding continued when the Appropriation Committee’s Senior Democrat, Barbara MIkulski (D-MD), called for a 5% boost, compared to 3.3% in the President’s budget. The House Appropriations Labor-H Subcommittee was also active, hosting a public witness hearing on NIH, CDC, AHRQ and other Labor-H programs and agencies. For those advocates who were not able to provide testimony in person, we convened a virtual day of action using the hashtag #findfundcure. A huge thanks to all those who participated!

Research!America was on the Hill during this busy week, with our partners AcademyHealth, the American Heart Association and WomenHeart, for a well-attended and lively congressional lunch briefing that brought statistics about heart disease to life, unpacking the distinct, yet mutually reinforcing, aspects of the research continuum from basic to clinical to health services research and everything in between!  Two of our newest fact sheets, an update on heart disease and stroke as well as a spotlight on cardiovascular research at federal agencies were released.  We look forward to partnering on more briefings in this series.

Tomorrow, May 1st, we hope to see your new member of Congress at our freshman briefing.  There’s still time to remind your elected representative to come by. Contact Caitlin Leach for details at cleach@researchamerica.org.   

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