North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Robert Casey, D-Penn., on Tuesday said they’ve written a letter to ask for strong federal funding for the National Institute of Health for medical research.
Sen. Kay Hagan, the state’s Democratic senator, was among 33 senators who also signed the letter.
The letter was sent to the lead Democratic and Republican Senate budget negotiators. The Senate negotiators and their House counterparts have until mid-December to reach a budget agreement.
In the first year of the across-the-board cuts this year, NIH funds were cut by $1.55 billion, and that mean that 640 fewer research projects were funded, according to a news release from Casey’s office. Another big sequestration cut will take place in January if there’s no new federal budget.
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“The medical research supported by the NIH has played a vital role in advancing innovative treatments and therapies that have enhanced and saved countless lives,” Burr said in a statement. “Investing in medical research not only makes certain that patients and health care providers will continue to have access to lifesaving treatments, but also ensures that innovation in the field of biomedical research will help the U.S. remain globally competitive and continue to drive economic growth.”
Burr and Casey argued that funding for medical research made economic sense and improved lives. From their letter:
“The NIH offers our best hope for treating or curing debilitating diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so many other illnesses that American families battle every day. The NIH supports research in all fifty states, through nearly 50,000 competitive grants that support hundreds of thousands of researchers across the nation. NIH-funded research has contributed to an increase in lifespan over the last century of nearly 30 years and according to the NIH, has added an estimated $3.2 trillion annually to the U.S. economy since 1970. Cancer deaths are falling about one percent each year, with each percentage point decline saving the U.S. approximately $500 billion a year. According to the NIH, it is estimated that each dollar invested in the NIH generates $2.21 in local economic growth. ”