Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: High alert
Dear Research Advocate,
At this challenging time, Research!America is laser-focused on helping to advance policy and funding actions to speed the day we see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be hearing more from us as we share what we know, including ways you can get involved in advocacy at this important time. We invite you to be in touch with us with your suggestions. While we took the step of postponing one of our signature events — our Advocacy Awards Dinner — we look forward to announcing a new date.
As we hit the “send” button, members of Congress and the White House are negotiating a supplemental budget package focused on mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Reportedly, this measure will include a provision to provide testing free of charge. In addition to the cost, for many people, the key questions are when testing will be more readily available and why availability has been such a challenge. And, for too many people, now and in the near future, dealing with symptoms and full-blown disease will be a daunting challenge.
When you are in the midst of a crisis, it can be difficult to step back and ask what is needed for the future, but it is important to do so. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) have both championed standing reserve funds that can be tapped in a crisis to better respond to public health threats. As our own Ellie Dehoney said in answer to a reporter’s query: COVID-19 “should be a wake-up call — our nation lacks a well-resourced standing fund that can be tapped without delay in the event of public health emergencies like this one. It is time to acknowledge the inevitability of outbreaks like COVID-19 and ensure reserve funding is available when the next threat emerges.” More to come on advocacy opportunities on this issue.
Earlier today, we released the 20th edition of America Speaks! — a selection of data from our commissioned surveys over the past year, covering critical issues facing our nation, and including interesting trend information. Across the country and across the political spectrum, Americans want faster medical progress and are willing to pay more in taxes to increase medical research and innovation. Disturbing downward trends in the importance of vaccines to the health of our society (down 9% from 2008) and the importance of vaccinating children (down 13% from 2008), tell us that advocates must work harder and smarter in encouraging vaccinations and supporting the development of new vaccines. We thank the AMA for sponsorship support of this publication.
Americans see the connection between increased investment in R&D and our nation’s job creation, economic growth and global competitiveness, another key finding from our survey. I made this point in a just-published letter to the New York Times, written in response to a hard-hitting and right-on-the-mark op-ed by Eric Schmidt I brought to your attention last week. Please make use of relevant survey data like this as you reach out to elected officials and those seeking to be elected. Consider speaking out on social media or writing an op-ed or a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
We report annually on what we accomplished with and for our alliance in the previous year, confronting and overcoming the challenges of the time, just as we are confronting today’s challenges right now. Please see our 2019 Annual Report for a snapshot of our projects and activities. None of our work would have been possible without your partnership. Thank you.
Next week: If you are a member, please join Research!America for our monthly alliance call on Thursday, March 19 from 2-3 p.m. ET. We are delighted to be joined by two terrific speakers: Dr. Jacqueline Corrigan-Curay, Director of the Office of Medical Policy at FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) with an update on FDA’s implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act and Dana Acton, Legislative Director for House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) to discuss FY21 appropriations and supplemental COVID-19 funding. RSVP here for a calendar invite with the call-in information.
We fully anticipate scheduling additional alliance teleconferences in the weeks ahead. The times call for heightened advocacy, and we are ready to deliver.
Let’s all stay well and stay connected.