Biomedical Research: Surveys Show Majority of Americans and Senators want Higher Funding

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at campaignforcures@gmail.com.   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit www.campaignforcures.org

Biomedical Research: Surveys Show Majority of Americans and Senators want Higher Funding

By: 
Janice Lloyd

When you or a loved one gets the devastating news about having a disease, biomedical research suddenly becomes front and center in your world.  What’s the latest treatment? Is there a cure? Whether it’s cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Autism or mental illness, patients’ and families’ No. 1 priority becomes finding the most up-to-date treatments to live healthy, productive lives.

Surveys of likely voters commissioned by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in several states (www.cancervotes.org) show that the majority of respondents favor increased federal spending on medical research, while 80% say it’s urgently needed. Many Senators seem to be on board with that sentiment.

“Cancer is not a partisan issue, and it’s something we get support from both sides of the aisle on,’’ said Stacy Reliford with ACSCAN. “Everyone has their own personal connection to cancer, and their reason for supporting us.”

 In Missouri, Republican incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt and Democratic challenger Jason Kander agree that more federal dollars should be spent on research, but they have different ideas about how to pay for it.

Those differences are at the core of an impasse in the Senate over 21st Century Cures legislation, which would inject billions of dollars into medical research and speed drug approval. Republicans and Democrats have haggled over how much funding should be in the package and what other programs should be cut to pay for it.

So what is the solution? While Blunt, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, has been a champion for funding boosts for the National Institutes of Health, research advocates say the increases haven’t kept up with inflation. A cancer survivor, Blunt has prioritized cancer research, but he disagrees with President Obama’s request on how to fund it.

Blunt’s opponent, Kander, backs the administration’s call for $750 million in new mandatory funding for medical research as part of the Cancer Moonshot.

“Providing stable and adequate funding for the fight against cancer should not be a political football, which is why I support making record levels of funding a mandatory part of the budget,’’ Kander said in his response to an ACS CAN candidate questionnaire.

While the Cures vote could be put off for the next Congress, it is expected to be taken up during the lame duck session. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said the “Cures bill could be the most significant piece of legislation we pass in the whole Congress.”

While any spending hikes need to be paid for one way or another, a future without new treatments poses huge costs as well.

Families and research advocates have been successful, according to Research!America’s CEO Mary Woolley, at convincing Congress that “diseases like Alzheimer's and diabetes and cancer would not only continue to claim lives and cause family heartbreak, but bankrupt the nation if we failed to put the full potential of science to work.”

 

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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

 
Source: A Research!America and ScienceDebate.org poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.

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