All of us have known one of the millions of Americans who has been diagnosed with a life threatening or life altering disease or disability. For example, it is estimated that each year almost 1.5 million Americans will learn they have some form of cancer.
With the ever rising costs of health care, the federal government must invest in prevention programs and health research. I believe that achieving these two objectives is the key to a healthier America.
Emphasizing Health-Related Research to Cure, Detect, and Prevent Disease
The federal government has made progress in emphasizing health related research. From Fiscal Years 1998 to 2003, we were successful in doubling the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. Since that time, however, the federal commitment to raising NIH funding has weakened. I disagree with these decisions and have fought for more research funding through my position on the House Appropriations Committee by voting to fully fund NIH research for all diseases, so we can continue to make new discoveries that will help save lives.
Health related research can do much more than help find cures for diseases. Research has led to new diagnosis and detection procedures, as well as prevention methods. The more we know about a particular disease or disability, the better our chances are of preventing new cases.
Can you imagine how many millions of people would have suffered and died if researchers had never discovered that high cholesterol leads to blocked arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes? Or that many human organs can be transplanted? With this knowledge, countless lives have been saved. Research must continue so that these types of discoveries can provide answers to the questions we all have about different ailments.
Increasing Access to Clinical Trials
I also believe that Americans can play an active role in this research by taking part in clinical trials that may help save their lives. I have voted for legislation that would increase access to clinical trials and will continue to support granting people with life-threatening and rare diseases the choice to help advance science if they so chose. Clinical trials can be the key element in linking research with the practical understanding of how to prevent certain conditions. Once the mystery of a disease is solved, it can be treated, prevented, and even cured.
The Importance of Ethical Stem Cell Research
I believe we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to help the millions of Americans suffering from disease. That is why we must investigate new technologies and support them with federal funding. I have long supported increased access to ethical stem cell research as long as that research prohibits the creation or cloning of human embryos. I have cosponsored and voted in favor of legislation that would permit federal funding to be used for embryonic stem cell research. This area of research holds the key to easing the pain and suffering of so many of our friends and family members. The United States has long been the leader in groundbreaking health research and we must ensure that our leadership continues into the future.
As technology advances and scientists continue their exploration of our ever expanding knowledge of the human body, the federal government must remain committed to health related research and prevention. I will continue to advocate for increased health research spending that will expand the current capabilities of NIH, and direct federal funding to new technologies.