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Confronting Challenges Together

Dear Research Advocate:

The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey is heartbreaking. Federal science agencies and individual members of the scientific community across the nation are stepping up to lend a hand. It is truly gratifying to see the outpouring of support among those in the research and public health communities, aiding institutions and residents impacted by the floods. The American Diabetes Association, JDRF, the Endocrine Society, American Public Health Association (APHA), and PhRMA are among our many member organizations sending medicines, equipment and resources to hard-hit areas. A timely National Academies report chaired by Research!America board member Georges Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director of APHA, provides recommendations on how to prepare for and mitigate the toll of disasters.

This week, Research!America members talked with Majority and Minority staff of the Senate HELP Committee regarding the committee’s long and varied to-do list for September and beyond. First up: hearings to arrive at a strategy for stabilizing the individual insurance market. Other priorities: overseeing 21st Century Cures Act implementation; doing the legwork that precedes some tricky reauthorization bills (those focused on animal drug user fees and pandemic preparedness are among them); more hearings looking at the prescription drug supply chain (the committee is rightly determined to clarify the complexity of factors that influence pricing before taking action that could inadvertently do more harm than good); and the list goes on.

One striking and heartening takeaway from the meeting: the clear commitment of Chairman Alexander’s staff and Ranking Member Murray’s staff to work together, rather than at cross purposes, to arrive at pragmatic solutions. They are an impressive team taking a determined, bipartisan approach that is also characteristic of the leaders for whom they work. I truly hope it’s catching! Here’s a meeting recap.

We also held a Research!America alliance members’ conference call this week, during which we detailed plans for our  #RaiseTheCaps digital days of advocacy on September 11 and 12. We are putting together an array of resources, including action alerts, sample social media messages, and graphics for advocates to deploy in the fight to raise the innovation-stifling sequestration budget caps. I hope you’ll take advantage of these talking points and/or reach out to Rachel Weissman (rweissman@researchamerica.org) if we can help you make the case for a budget deal.

Believe me on this: without persistent, insistent advocacy, the chances of a budget deal plummet. And without a budget deal, the odds tilt heavily toward flat-funding or worse. In recent op-eds, University of Delaware Professor William Farquhar and Former University of California, Riverside Professor Thomas Baldwin each make a compelling case for raising the caps. Want to write one of your own? Or send a joint Research!America/(name of your organization) letter to your congressional delegation? Or just want some moral support on your own letter? Let us help. Email Ellie (edehoney@researchamerica.org).

I hope to see many of you next week at our annual National Health Research Forum on Thursday, September 7. We are thrilled to have three prestigious and diverse panels of experts for some “straight talk.” The event has reached capacity, but you can add your name to our waiting list. Visit our website for more information.


Mary Woolley