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Poll Reveals Deep Concerns Among Americans about Impact of Spending Cuts to Medical Research

Alexandria, Va.-December 13, 2012-Nearly 60% of Americans are skeptical that Congress and the White House will reach an agreement that will avoid the fiscal cliff, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America.  More than 80% of Republicans, nearly 40% of Democrats and 65% of Independents say they are "not too confident" or "not at all confident" current negotiations will result in a deal.  The findings reveal growing doubt among many Americans that Congress and the Administration will be able to make a deal that would avoid tax increases for most Americans and major funding cuts for federal agencies, including those that are responsible for funding medical research.

"Congress and the Administration must make bold decisions to address our nation's deficit, but cutting funding for research should not be one of them," said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. "We cannot afford to drain the research pipeline as other countries challenge our world leadership in science and innovation."

An overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) say that medical research is important to reducing health care costs. And an even larger percentage (87%)  believe that it is important that our nation support research that focuses on improving how our health care system is functioning.

Even in a challenging fiscal environment, Americans continue to place a high priority on biomedical and health research. Upon learning that the percentage of government spending allocated for biomedical and health research is roughly 1.5%, almost half of Americans (48%) believed that it was not enough. In fact, 54% would be willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional medical research. This comes as no surprise, as more than half (55%) of Americans do not believe that the U.S. is making enough progress in medical research.

"Our polling underscores support for a stronger investment in research - there's no doubt that people want a cure, sooner rather than later, for Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and so many other diseases and disabilities," added Woolley. "In a time when difficult decisions have to be made, Americans overwhelmingly believe research and innovation should be prioritized."

Other poll highlights include:

  • More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) say that it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation.
  • Nearly 70% of Americans believe that the federal government should increase support for programs and policies that would increase the number of young Americans who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • 66% of Americans, say they would be willing to share personal health information to advance medical research assuming that appropriate privacy protections were used.
  • 68% of Americans say it's important that the federal research and development tax credit is made permanent.

The National Public Opinion Poll was conducted online in December 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll had a sample size of 1,000, with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.2%. To view the poll, visit: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/December2012pollslides.pdf

About the National Public Opinion Poll

Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America's polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.

About Research!America

Research!America  is the nation's largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.