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A Bias for Action

Dear Research Advocate:

Advocacy works! The Senate narrowly voted down (48-50) advancing the president’s rescissions package to the Senate floor, this preserving $800 million that otherwise would have been stripped from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). A special thanks to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) and to other terrific advocates who helped make the case against the CMMI cut.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $8.1 billion for FY19 National Science Foundation funding, a 3.9% increase over FY18. While this number is slightly below the House-approved $8.175 billion, given that the overall increase to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding is nominal in FY19, the Senate number is still a science victory!   Research!America sent a thank you note to “CJS” Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). I hope you will also consider doing the same or thanking the committee members via Twitter. Here is a link to the Twitter handles and sample tweets.

This afternoon, President Trump released his government reorganization plan. We are just beginning to digest it, but there appear to be two proposals related to NIH (see page 125) that are similar in nature to the administrative and consolidation plans in the president’s various budget proposals. The House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing on the president’s reorganization plan next Wednesday. Stay tuned…

 In a recent op-ed in The Hill, Research!America Board Member Dr. Georges Benjamin makes the case that Congress must provide sustainable, reliable funding for public health, so that communities will be prepared when (not if) a new disease threat appears. The July/August edition of The Atlantic tells the chilling tale that “The epidemics of the early 21st century revealed a world unprepared, even as the risks continue to multiply.” It’s time for action to assure robust public health funding.

Yet another troubling public health threat demanding action is child abuse and neglect. At a recent event in Denver, Research!America and the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN) released new public opinion data revealing that a strong majority of Americans view child abuse and neglect as a public health issue… a critically important one. Across racial and ethnic groups, the sense of urgency is strong, as is support for increased federal funding for research and bolstered public health programs. You can read more about the survey results here.

Another focus for stakeholders across the patient, provider, public and private sector research communities is ensuring that diagnostics receive the priority they deserve as key to improving health and health care and that the regulation of these tools serves the best interest of patients. Oversight of diagnostics is the joint responsibility of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If your organization is interested in joining others working to determine the best path forward, let Ellie know at edehoney@researchamerica.org.

Last evening, Research!America joined AAMC and other partners in a Capitol Hill reception celebrating ongoing, bipartisan support for NIH. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, who put me in mind of former Research!America Chair Paul Rogers’ oft-quoted phrase “without research, there is no hope,” taking that sentiment further to make it clear that hope is not a plan! Dr. Collins said: “Hope attaches to action. Without action there is no hope. We are all about that action.” Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), House Labor-HHS Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) all shared their determination to continue appropriating robust funding for the NIH to fuel Dr. Collins’ bias for action in speeding medical progress.  


Mary Woolley