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Statement by American Heart Association Immediate-Past President Raymond Gibbons, M.D. on Congressional Omnibus Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bush administration and its supporters have delivered a one-two punch to Americans with a spending bill that fails to adequately fund medical research and protect us from genetic discrimination. The omnibus bill approved by the House is a real heartbreaker for the 81 million Americans suffering from heart disease and stroke and their loved ones. We're extremely disappointed that the president and his supporters have resisted efforts to significantly increase funding for research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The appropriations measure essentially froze funding for NIH heart disease and stroke research, cutting the institute's budget for the fifth year in a row after adjusting for medical research inflation. Since the end of the doubling in 2003, NIH funding has been cut by eleven percent and cuts in cardiovascular research are even larger.

Our elected officials also missed an opportunity to protect Americans from unwarranted discrimination stemming from genetic medical breakthroughs. In today's era of personalized medicine, each individual's health care is shaped according to their genetic make-up. However, the lack of protection against genetic discrimination allows for the possible misuse of genetic test results. The Genetic Information NonDiscrimination Act would assure patients that the technology will not be used for potential abuse. The bill was not included in the omnibus approved by the House despite efforts by the American Heart Association and other health groups to move it in Congress.

Although many important Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs were cut below last year's funding level, we are pleased that the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and WISEWOMAN programs received an increase. These resources will allow more states to initiate activities aimed at helping Americans -- particularly those at highest risk -- live healthier lives. Unfortunately, funding for a different cardiovascular disease program was cut. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program tries to reduce deaths from sudden cardiac arrest by placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public facilities where cardiac arrests are likely to occur and training lay rescuers. Funding for that program was reduced from last year's level.

SOURCE American Heart Association
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