AADR and ADEA Members on Capitol Hill: Advocacy Day Recap

By Carolyn Mullen and Nick Cavarocchi Jr.

AADR/ADEA 2015 Advocacy Day On April 14, 2015, oral health scientists, educators and students from throughout the country participated in the 2015 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill cosponsored by the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).  The purpose of the advocacy day was to persuade Congress to increase funding for oral health research and education by highlighting the economic impact, importance, and promise of the research supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  “We all have our own story,” said AADR President Paul Krebsbach, DDS, PhD, Professor of Dentistry and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.  “We’re the best stewards for information. Members of Congress value and listen to their constituents, which is why we are here today.”

With record levels of participation, our members conducted over 70 meetings with members of Congress. During these meetings they urged Congress to provide $32 billion for NIH, $425 million for NIDCR and $35 million for the primary care training in General, Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII Health Professions Program in the Fiscal Year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriation Bill.

Also, to amplify our message on Capitol Hill, AADR issued an action alert which enabled individuals to participate virtually in our Advocacy Day. To date, AADR advocates sent over 90 emails to members of Congress.

AADR/ADEA 2015 Advocacy DayPrior to advocating on behalf of oral health research and education, our members attended a morning briefing session in the Rayburn House Office Building.  Importantly, all three dentists who are members of Congress, Representatives Simpson, R-Idaho; Gosar, R-Ariz., and Babin, R-Texas., briefed and welcomed the participants.  In particular, Rep. Simpson emphasized the importance of biomedical research and recognized that Congress needs to get control of the debt otherwise there will not be any additional money for the National Institutes of Health.  Representative G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. whose father was a dentist also brought greetings to our members. Dr. Martha Somerman, director of NIDCR and Dr. Renee Joskow, senior dental advisor at HRSA, also provided an update about initiatives and priorities at their respective agencies.

Katie Schubert, vice president at CRD Associates, provided an overview of the fiscal landscape and encouraged participants to actively engage with members of Congress. She stated, “We are living in a changing world of advocacy and we need discuss the importance of these programs and be engaged at the front end of this process.”

Reports from Advocacy Day participants indicated that Congress is generally supportive of increasing funding for NIH and appreciated the additional information about NIDCR and the grants it supports in the policymaker’s state.

The AADR Government Affairs team invites all members of the dental research and education community to engage their elected officials regularly, but at least on an annual basis through the Advocacy Day program, to communicate the importance of dental, oral and craniofacial research. If you would like to become more involved with AADR’s advocacy efforts please contact Carolyn Mullen, director of government affairs, and contact your elected representatives through the online AADR Legislative Action Center.AADR/ADEA 2015 Advocacy Day

AADR/ADEA 2015 Advocacy Day

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AADR Submits Testimony Urging Congress to Increase Funding for NIH and NIDCR

Today, AADR President Dr. Paul Krebsbach submitted written testimony on behalf of AADR urging Congress to provide at least $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $425 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in the fiscal  year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriation bill. The testimony highlighted the important contributions of dental, oral and craniofacial research and also acknowledged that the current austerity frame is unworkable and insufficient to meet our nation’s health demands. Dr. Krebsbach strongly urged Congress to take the steps necessary to put an end to sequestration permanently, reinvest in America’s health and provide funding increases for NIH and NIDCR in fiscal year 2016.

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Budget Update

This week Congress approved their budget resolutions by a 52-46 vote in the Senate and a 228-199 vote in the House. The budget resolutions essentially are a blueprint laying out Congressional priorities for the next year. The House and Senate will now develop a compromise agreement or conference report in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, both bills keep in place the sequester level caps on non-defense discretionary spending. Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). By adhering to the austere spending caps it will be virtually impossible for Congress to provide meaningful increases in funding for NIH in the upcoming fiscal year.

There may be a small glimmer of hope however, according to CQHealthbeat, “Some in the GOP see the House and Senate budgets as an opening bid in a likely negotiation with the White House later this year. Such talks would look for broader changes in the spending caps that many lawmakers argue should be raised both for defense and domestic programs.” AADR will continue to advocate on behalf of our members urging Congress to undo sequestration, raise the caps on non-defense discretionary spending and reinvest in biomedical research.

What is next? After Congress votes on the budget resolution conference report, the appropriations committees receive their funding allocations and will begin their work drafting appropriations bills. Historically, Congress will release the text of those bills in early summer.

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Children’s Health Insurance Program Update

Yesterday, in an unusual display of bipartisanship the House approved the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R.2) by a 392-37 vote. This legislation repeals automatic cuts to Medicare payments for doctors and proposes to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program for two years. The legislation is now headed for the Senate for consideration. AADR recently joined over 1,500 organizations in support of extending the CHIP program so that children would not lose access to comprehensive medical and dental coverage. We will continue to monitor this bill as it moves forward in the legislative process.

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Gert Quigley Fellowship Application Deadline Extended

AADR has extended the deadline for applications for the Gert Quigley Government Affairs Fellowship. Applications are due now due on April 10, 2015.

The Gert Quigley Public Policy Fellowship provides a unique and exciting learning experience both in Washington, DC and through grassroots efforts at the participants local university or institution. This fellowship is designed to familiarize dental school, Ph.D., or dual degree students with the federal legislative process as it relates to basic and translational dental and craniofacial research, as well as research on the oral health care delivery system. The applicant must be a member of the AADR National Student Research Group and a D.M.D./D.D.S., Ph.D. or a dual degree student.

 Click here for more information about the program and the application process.

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AADR Issues Statement about House FY16 Budget Resolution

House FY16 Budget Resolution: Bad for Biomedical Research, Unhealthy for Americans

The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) is deeply disappointed with the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Budget Resolution adopted today by the House Budget Committee. By adhering to austere spending caps in the short term, this spending blueprint will further slow progress on improving the health and well-being of all Americans as well as effectively stifle any opportunities to develop personalized medicine approaches to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health, reduce oral health inequalities, or ensure a robust and diverse pipeline of dental, oral, and craniofacial researchers.

By cutting nondefense discretionary spending an additional $759 billion from FY2017 through FY2025, this budget plan all but assures that the US will continue to lose ground as the world leader in research and development, that its economic growth will be hampered and that American families will lose their best hope for treating and curing debilitating diseases.

Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Many members of Congress have voiced their support for biomedical research, but unless Congress provides a sufficient and reliable investment for NIH, American’s health will suffer.

Over the past several years, funding for NIDCR has dropped 25 percent when adjusted for inflation. This decline in purchasing power is especially troubling because past achievements in oral health during the last half century are in large part the fruits of research supported by NIDCR. Any hope of restoring that momentum would be lost under this budget resolution.

“We hope lawmakers will reject this resolution and work together to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not rely on additional cuts to non-defense discretionary programs,” said AADR President Paul Krebsbach from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

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Gert Quigley Government Affairs Fellowship Application Period Open

AADR is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2015-2016 Gert Quigley Government Affairs Fellowship. The Gert Quigley Public Policy Fellowship provides a unique and exciting learning experience both in Washington, DC and through grassroots efforts at the participants local university or institution. This fellowship is designed to familiarize dental school, Ph.D., or dual degree students with the federal legislative process as it relates to basic and translational dental and craniofacial research, as well as research on the oral health care delivery system. The applicant must be a member of the AADR National Student Research Group and a DMD/DDS, Ph.D. or a dual degree student.

Click here for more information about the program and the application process.

Applications are due by March 20, 2015!

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AADR Urges Congress to Eliminate Sequestration and Fiscal Austerity

This week, AADR joined an effort spearheaded by NDD United coalition urging Congress and President Obama to work together to end sequestration. The letter cosigned by 2,100 organizations emphasizes (1) the importance of nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, (2) the harmful effects of budget cuts to date, and (3) the equal importance of both defense and nondefense programs in America’s security at home and abroad, and thus the need for equal sequestration relief.

AADR carried this message to Capitol Hill this week by joining the Coalition for Health Funding in their lobby day to educate new members of Congress about sequestration, austerity measures and their impact on dental, oral and craniofacial research.

 

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Sequestration 101

This week the Coalition for Health Funding released a fact sheet to educate Congress and the public about sequestration. Importantly, sequestration for fiscal year 2016 will not be implemented via across the board cuts. This year sequestration simply means lowering the funding caps established by the Budget Control Act, which translates into level funding for non-defense discretionary spending.

What does this mean for biomedical research? It will be extremely difficult for Congress to provide any additional funding for agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) unless they lift the spending caps. If Congress does not lift the caps the following scenarios could happen:

  • Additional funding for NIH could potentially come at the expense of other programs.
  • Funding for NIH is level, does not keep pace with inflation and there is no opportunity for growth.
  • Congress could approve a “carve out” or work around legislation to provide additional funding for biomedical research if Congress does not address the overall caps established by the Budget Control Act.

How can we address sequestration? AADR is actively engaged with NDD United and the Coalition for Health Funding urging Congress to eliminate sequestration and the current austerity framework. We continue to meet with members of Congress and share our story about the impact austerity measures has on dental, oral and craniofacial research. It is our hope that through these collective advocacy efforts Congress will build on the momentum of the Ryan-Murray budget agreement from 2013 and roll back sequestration permanently.

What can you do? Register to join AADR and ADEA on April 14, 2015 to meet with members of Congress. Also, if you have a story to share please email the AADR director of government affairs Carolyn Mullen cmullen@aadr.org

 

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Do you know who is making funding decisions? Get to Know the Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees

By Colin McGoodwin, AADR Government Affairs Intern
The newly elected Congress resulted in many changes in the composition of the Senate and House Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittees. These members are in charge of drafting legislation to provide funding for agencies such as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). If any of the subcommittee members are from your state or district we strongly encourage AADR members to starting building a relationship with these policymakers. The recently released President’s budget proposed a funding increase for NIDCR, but with the current political climate it is up to you to let your representative know that every dollar is needed. Below are the members of the subcommittees:

Senate LHHS Subcommittee Members

Republican
Roy Blunt, Missouri, Chairman
Jerry Moran, Kansas
Richard C. Shelby, Alabama
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
Mark Kirk, Illinois
Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia
James Lankford, Oklahoma

Democrat
Patty Murray, Washington, Ranking Member
Richard J. Durbin, Illinois
Jack Reed, Rhode Island
Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
Jeff Merkley, Oregon
Brian Schatz, Hawaii
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin

House LHHS Subcommittee Members

Republican
Tom Cole, Oklahoma, Chairman
Mike Simpson, Idaho
Steve Womack, Arkansas
Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee
Andy Harris, MD, Maryland
Martha Roby, Alabama
Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania
Scott Rigell, Virginia

Democrat
Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut, Ranking Member
Lucille Roybal-Allard, California
Barbara Lee, California
Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania

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