A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Time is money

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

With Congress back from Thanksgiving break, there is new energy to carry the FY16 budget across the finish line. One of the ways we registered our position against riders on the budget bill was to participate earlier this afternoon in a “Twitter Town Hall” organized by the Clean Budget Coalition. Individuals from a wide array of organizations joined this worthwhile effort. When it comes to delays in passing new spending for research and other urgent national priorities, time actually is money-- money that could be put to use immediately to find the solutions to what ails us!
 
We are continuing to highlight the importance of repealing, or more realistically, suspending the medical device tax this year. This week we sent a letter to House Ways and Means, and Senate Finance Committee leadership urging them to include a two-year suspension of the medical device tax in the pending tax extenders package. Inside Health Policy cited our letter in an article and reported that action on the device tax is “still on the table in current negotiations.” Good to hear!
 
Also still pending-- the Common Rule. The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline for comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) until January 6. If you are interested in submitting comments, we urge you to do so!
 
This week, President Obama is in Paris discussing climate change with leaders from around the globe. Back in the U.S., a different discussion is taking place, this one involving the science behind climate change. Seven major scientific societies sent a letter to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), raising concerns about his decision to launch an inquiry into a paper funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The letter acknowledges the essential oversight role of the Congress, but questions the additional scrutiny of well-vetted scientific data. Chairman Smith subsequently revised his request  for documents and communications to exclude those by scientists acting in their official capacity. It’s a modest improvement and certainly not the end of the story, but it’s important. Advocacy has impact. We need to keep this in mind and keep at it. 

The importance of advocacy is a theme in the letter Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, wrote to their newborn daughter, Maxima: “We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates. Many institutions are unwilling to do this, but progress must be supported by movements to be sustainable.” Another theme in the letter is the imperative of fighting harder against disease: “Once we recognize that your generation and your children's generation may not have to suffer from disease, we collectively have a responsibility to tilt our investments a bit more towards the future to make this reality.” This is the very conversation our nation should be having during the 2016 elections, and Research!America’s Campaign for Cures is about making sure we do. Medical progress is having a moment. Let’s make it a movement. Please join the Campaign for Cures. Contact Thayer Surette for more information at tsurette@researchamerica.org

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley
 

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana