Falling Off the “Fiscal Cliff”: As Funding Cuts Loom, Americans Are Willing to Pay for Biomedical Research

As pundits project and partisans dig in on Capitol Hill, Americans remain committed to investing in biomedical research, and are even willing to spend more of their tax dollars to advance science in their communities. According to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America:

  • More than 50% say they would be willing to pay $1 more per week if the dollars would go to medical research – even in these tough fiscal times.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) say that it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation.
  • Nearly 70% believe that the federal government should increase support for programs and policies that would increase the number of young Americans who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • 68% say it’s important that the federal research and development tax credit is made permanent.

How might falling off the “fiscal cliff” affect biomedical research in Washington State? The biomedical research sector provides thousands of jobs in Washington: pharmaceutical (2,490); medical device (7,760); research, testing, and laboratories (15,088); and overall private sector (2,429,884).  Further reduction in NIH and NSF funding to biomedical research could affect this sector and reduce employment opportunities nation-wide, forcing job-seekers to relocate or potentially discourage students from pursuing scientific careers.

Current NIH funding has designated Seattle as the hub for comparative-effectiveness research in cancer. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Group Health Research Institute, and the University of Washington School of Public Health are leading projects in cancer genomics, cancer diagnostics, breast imaging, and cancer screening. Results from these projects will provide vital information in diagnosis, treating, and communicating information about cancer to medical professionals, patients and their families, and health insurance companies. The threatened reduction in funding could impact these critical programs and may delay evaluations of testing and treatments for cancer patients. Without continued biomedical research funding in Washington—and across the U.S.—we compromise our ability to evaluate cancer diagnostic tools, screening tests, treatments, and a balanced assessment of cost and benefit.

Time is running out on Capitol Hill. While it’s absolutely necessary to reduce the deficit, more spending cuts that hinder medical progress are harmful to public health, the economy, and global innovation. The Northwest is a national leader in biomedical research and innovation, and our representatives can still save thousands of jobs, and $70 million in grant funding in Washington alone. Reach out to our lawmakers today—before they adjourn for the holiday—and count yourself among the majority of Americans who take action to preserve and advance biomedical research funding.

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