By David Barras
Locals can voluntarily give tax dollars to pay for political campaigns and conventions. But, an Indiana congresswoman wants to change that. Instead, she wants to take those same tax dollars and use them to fight children's diseases.
Susan Brooks was at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health Monday to explain how it would work.
Ten clinical research studies are currently underway at Riley. These studies can end up making a life or death difference for children like Josiah Nelson, who 8 years ago, at age six, was diagnosed with Leukemia.
"Treatments were very hard. And my immune system was very low so I usually couldn't go out of the house sometimes," said Josiah.
But thanks to treatment at Riley, Josiah, now 14-years-old, is cancer free. The treatment came after years of very expensive research.
"Funding is becoming harder across all funding sources, so any new initiatives, any new ideas, we're very excited about," said Dr. Jeff Sperring, President and CEO of Riley.
"The Kids First Research Act" is the name of the bill Representative Brooks co-sponsored in the US House of Representatives.
"And what this bill would do is remove the taxpayer funding from political conventions and from presidential campaigns and move it to NIH's common fund, specifically for pediatric research," she said.
Brooks said about $130 million over ten years would go to the National Institutes of Health, to be used for research on children's diseases instead of going to presidential conventions and campaigns. Brooks said it's money neither presidential candidate used in the past election cycle.
"We need not only to find cures but to find more therapies, more medicines and we talked about that, which helps these families and these kids deal with their diseases," Brooks said.
Josiah Nelson and his family agree.
Representative Brooks hopes the bill will get called up for a vote in the house by the end of this month. Then, it would go on to the Senate.
She said she is optimistic it will pass because in the House it has more than 120 co-sponsors.