A Weekly Advocacy Message From Mary Woolley: Avalanche of Activity

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Last Friday, while many of us were still savoring a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving, the House released their revamped version of the 21st Century Cures Act. Check out our most recent letter of support and our full statement for more details. Last night, it passed the House by an extraordinary bipartisan majority of 392-26, exceeding even the majority it achieved in its original passage in July 2015.

The new Cures package unleashed an avalanche of activity: Mark McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, former FDA commissioner and Research!America board member, and Ellen Sigal, chair and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, and former Research!America board member, penned a joint op-ed pushing for passage of this vital legislation. Mark, along with our own Ellie Dehoney, VP of Policy and Advocacy, discussed the topic with Richard Harris on NPR’s All Things Considered. Yesterday, the original architects of this entire initiative, Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-06) and Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), penned an op-ed ahead of the scheduled vote later in the day. Importantly, the package received a major nod of approval from the White House Tuesday night in their Statement of Administration Policy

While the Senate is expected to quickly take up the package, it is important to acknowledge that the bill does have detractors. As I noted yesterday in STAT, the decision to tap the scheduled increases of the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), as authorized in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to partially pay for the funding included in Cures is definitely not something we were pleased to see. The PPHF provides vital dollars to secure our nation’s health. It should be championed as a strategic investment in our public health infrastructure and deserves support. Whether or not the PPHF is tapped for Cures, because it is part of ACA it could well be eliminated in the new Congress; a strong new advocacy push will be required to assure that as a nation, we do not abandon success to date and the promise of preventing more costly and unnecessary suffering in the future.

Bottom line: The Cures bill involves a difficult compromise, but I strongly feel it makes enormous strides in the right direction. Increased funding for research, as well as bipartisan policy changes that finetune the discovery, development and delivery pipeline, are within our reach. Let’s grab hold of them. Please take a moment to email and tweet your Senators urging them to vote “yes” when Cures is considered next week.

As advocates for science and innovation work to secure Cures and prepare for a full court press for research and innovation in 2017, we are preparing new advocacy tools to help you make the case. We have just released a brand new fact sheet series, Innovation at Work, which provides a state-by-state snapshot of public- and private sector-fueled R&D at work to advance health. Our first release includes 9 states, CA, GA, MA, MS, NC, ND, NY, OH, and WI, with more to follow in the coming months. I would also like to call to your attention the latest addition to our Investment in Research Saves Lives and Money fact sheet series, Lupus, created with expert guidance from the Lupus Foundation of America (which will be honored at this year’s Advocacy Awards-- save the date!). I hope you will take advantage of these new resources.

One final thing -- Research!America members -- if you are in DC or planning a trip next week, consider stopping by our open house in our new location. It’s taking place Thursday, December 8. 


Mary Woolley

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter