A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: A bold new bill for NIH and FDA

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate: 
I’m pleased to announce that Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will be giving remarks at our Annual Meeting on March 16 at noon at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. We will also be hearing from newly confirmed FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and ALS patient advocate Lorri Carey. I hope you’ll join us at the annual meeting as well as at the Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner that evening. See our ad in Roll Call.
Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were joined by the eight other democratic members of the Senate HELP Committee today as they introduced the National Biomedical Research Act. This bill would provide a new mandatory funding stream for NIH and FDA that would be "earmarked" for such initiatives as precision medicine and a cancer moonshot.  It is gratifying to witness these leaders reaffirm the profound importance of faster progress; the challenge remains achieving bipartisan agreement in the Senate on an overall funding approach that couples robust annual appropriations with a supplemental, mandatory five-year funding stream.  We will continue to promote this dual strategy, and hope you will, too!  Check out the list of the Senate HELP Committee members. If you are a constituent of any of these Senators and want to work together on outreach to them, please get in touch with me or Ellie at edehoney@researchamerica.org.
This week marked a milestone in the 2016 presidential campaign: 13 state primaries and caucuses were held. As the presidential candidate field narrows and congressional races heat up, it is ever more important to ensure that the imperative of advancing health through research is part of the election year dialogue. For more information and new survey data, please see our press release from yesterday.
As food for thought on the bipartisan or “purple” (rather than red or blue) nature of life-sciences innovation, check out this recent ITIF report.  We must elect policymakers who recognize that medical progress is a team effort; you can't get there from here by bolstering federal funding while weakening private sector incentives, or vice versa. Join our Campaign for Cures voter education initiative and help us cultivate champions who will go to bat for the ecosystem as a whole.
Advocacy for FY17 appropriations is proceeding full steam ahead. Several House Labor-H appropriators from both sides of the aisle (speaking of research being a “purple” issue!) joined the subcommittee’s Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) on a recent visit to the NIH main campus in Bethesda. They met with senior leadership, toured research labs and talked with patients.
Meanwhile, appropriations “dear colleague” sign-on letters are circulating through Congress.  Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08) is leading a House letter in support of AHRQ (signatures are due Tuesday, March 15) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is leading the Senate letter (signatures are due Friday, March 11).  An NIH letter is circulating in the House with bipartisan leaders -- Reps. McKinley (R-WV-01), Davis (D-CA-53), King (R-NY-02) and Carson (D-IN-07) -- with signatories accepted through Friday, March 18. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are again circulating their annual NIH appropriations letter with a Tuesday, March 15 deadline. Ask your Representatives and Senators to sign on to these letters.  It’s a straight-forward calculation -- more names mean more attention; just as in elections, numbers count!

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The capabilities are enormous, a little bit of research can pay off quite a bit in the long run.
Paul D’ Addario, retinitis pigmentosa patient