In 2016 Senate Races, Where's the Push to Fund Medical Research?

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   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit

In 2016 Senate Races, Where's the Push to Fund Medical Research?

Janice Lloyd

While medical research and innovation have advantages for both the U.S. economy and Americans’ health, many of the candidates in hotly contested Senate races have been mum on those topics.

That silence can’t be sitting well with many voters, according to surveys commissioned by Research!America and other national advocacy groups. One issue that unites people is the need to make medical research and innovation a higher national priority in the United States. But less than 9 percent of those surveyed recall hearing their candidate discuss research.

Divisive issues like immigration reform, healthcare, women’s reproductive rights and national security are topics that flare up among candidates. For example, in Florida where Republican incumbent Marco Rubio is being opposed by Democrat Patrick Murphy, getting more funding to fight infectious diseases like Zika is largely absent from their debates and campaign trail speeches.

We’re also finding an absence of serious talk in Senate races about improving treatments for chronic diseases,  even though they are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. 

For example, in North Carolina, despite the fact that a majority of voters feel it is important for the next President and Congress to end cancer, they don’t feel they hear candidates talking enough about funding for cancer research, according to an October poll released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

 “A North Carolinian is diagnosed with cancer every 10 minutes. That means, during the course of this general election season, 12,800 North Carolinians will hear the words ‘you have cancer,’” said John Tramontin, an ACS CAN volunteer from Raleigh, N.C. “Voters clearly feel a sense of urgency that Congress must make ending cancer a priority and yet they aren’t hearing the candidates talk about this issue enough. From now through election day, Cancer Votes volunteers will be out on the campaign trail educating voters and candidates on how elected officials can play a critical role in eliminating death and suffering from this disease.”

In several states, battling opioid abuse, an escalating epidemic, has been a part of the campaign conversation.  While a bipartisan team overwhelmingly supported the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act into law this summer, candidates have disagreed during debates in several battleground states (Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri) about how to target the problem and what some Democrats view as low funding levels.

With just days remaining to the election, there’s time to push and expect the candidates to talk about how research can improve the economy by providing high-paying jobs and improve the lives of millions of American suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Autism and mental illness.

A strong majority of Americans (81%) agree that medicines available today have improved their quality of life and even more (91%) say it is important to develop better medicines for conditions we currently treat.

“We can’t afford to take continued medical progress for granted, or short-change it as a priority,’’ Research!America CEO Mary Woolley said.




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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

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