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New York's Medical Schools urge Congress to preserve NIH funding for scientific research

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) today directed a letter to the New York State Congressional Delegation calling on them to reject a nearly 10-percent cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Medicare and Title VII health professions programs, that will take effect January 2, 2013.

"In order to meet the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, continue to foster the types of innovation that will drive our regional economy, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, we need to invest more in medical research and the health care workforce, not less," said Dr. Lee Goldman, AMSNY's chair, and executive vice president and dean of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. "Cuts to vital research and educational programs will delay medical progress and deny hope to millions of Americans."

The AMSNY letter states that "the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates the pending sequestration action will reduce NIH funding in FY 2013 by $2.5 billion. Medical schools and teaching hospitals would lose more than $1 billion nationally. Approximately $167 million in funding would be lost in New York State alone. According to a 2010 Tripp Umbach report commissioned by AMSNY, the state receives an economic return of $7.50 for each research dollar invested in New York's medical schools. Therefore, a $167 million loss in NIH funding would equate to an overall loss of approximately $1.25 billion to New York's economy and result in lost jobs."

"The high quality of medical care we enjoy today is built upon years of effort by physicians, scientists and other medical professionals investigating the causes of, and potential treatments for, disease," said Dr. Goldman. "For millions of patients and their families, medical research means hope. It is the promise for a future that will alleviate pain and illness for those suffering from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, depression, and Parkinson's. To fully realize this hope, we must sustain federal support for the NIH."

As the largest federal funding agency for medical research, NIH invested more than $30 billion in FY 2012. More than 80 percent of the NIH's budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at more than 2,500 universities and research institutions across the country. More than half of this funding goes to medical schools and teaching hospitals. These institutions are committed to pioneering tomorrow's cures and medical advances, and bringing them to patients.

U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health said, "I voted against the Budget Control Act because Congress must make these tough budgetary decisions, not the President, not any 'Super Committee.' Sequestration was the result of the Budget Control Act's failure. Congress must do its job and pass a realistic deficit plan, not pass the buck. We have to work together and make the tough decisions we were elected to make. The cuts that are part of sequestration were supposed to be a deterrent to gridlock, as they are odious to everyone, especially New York's hospitals and medical research efforts. We have to strike a real deal to avoid these cuts, and bring our nation's debt under control."

U.S. Representative Nita Lowey stated, "It is critical for medical schools and research institutions in New York and nationwide to replace arbitrary and reckless cuts from sequestration with targeted reductions that do not jeopardize our health and competitiveness. I will work with Dean Goldman and all New York research institutions to prevent these short-sighted cuts from occurring."

U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney said, "New York's world-class hospitals and medical research facilities are not just the crown jewels of our nation's health care system, they are a key driver behind our economic recovery and job growth, as well as a prime source for advances in combating disease and the development of cutting-edge technology. We must avoid triggering a sequestration of federal funding that will inflict devastating cuts to the research and development programs that are our hope for the future. I am determined to join colleagues in both parties and both houses of Congress to prevent our nation from being hijacked off the fiscal cliff."

U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler stated, "Sequestration would have catastrophic effects on our economy, on jobs, and on the health care and services that millions of Americans depend on. If the National Institutes of Health suffer 8.2% cuts as planned, we would lose thousands of good local jobs and vital health care funding that New Yorkers depend on. Our children, seniors, middle class and low income people cannot afford such a blow, especially in the midst of a protracted recession."

U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel said, "We cannot afford these cuts. New York's medical schools and teaching hospitals have pioneered the latest technologies and new cures for patients through their cutting-edge research. These institutions have dramatically improved Americans' health and helped place our nation as the world's leader in biomedical research. We must not jeopardize efforts to advance medical innovation."

Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, said, "Now, when our ability to understand cancer, Alzheimer's, autism and many other diseases has never been greater, is exactly the wrong time to cut potentially life-saving research supported by NIH."

Dr. Ian Taylor, dean of SUNY Downstate Medical Center's College of Medicine, said, "As an academic medical center in an inner-city environment, SUNY Downstate is acutely aware of how economic pressures can have a negative impact on providing clinical care, educating and training new health professionals, and conducting medical research. We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to avoid the sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act and instead to continue to invest in health care, health education, and the research that brings new medical treatments to the marketplace."

Dr. David Duggan, interim dean of SUNY Upstate Medical University, said, "We must avoid the devastating and unwarranted cuts to the National Institutes of Health, Title VII health professions training programs, and Medicare that would further reduce our nations health care workforce and undermine the research that has the promise to improve care for patients with diseases like cancer, neurological diseases and diabetes. The health of our children is too important to sacrifice."

Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, said, "Federal research funding through the National Institutes of Health provides the backbone for scientific discoveries in laboratories throughout the country and a vital economic engine in the communities that host them. Clinical therapies developed from these discoveries improve and save lives every day. Congress must act to avert the NIH cuts that would result from sequestration for both New York's economy and for the health of all New Yorkers."

The Congressional Delegation was also asked to oppose Medicare reductions that will limit educational and research initiatives at teaching hospitals, as well as funding cuts to Title VII, which supports the training of a diverse health care workforce.

"Maintaining current funding levels for NIH, Medicare and Title VII is critical to the economic well-being of New York State, as well as that of the nation," said Dr. Goldman.

Contact: Crystal Mainiero
Columbia University Medical Center

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