While the ACA will continue protecting millions of Americans for now, there’s another aspect of the healthcare debate that’s been forgotten: the commitment by this administration to expand, and continue to expand, nationally funded research that has been responsible for the eradication and prevention of countless illnesses over the past few decades. The potential healthcare reforms will affect all of us, but the affects on medical research are not at the forefront of the story. Research departments could experience the potential affects of all the proposed budget cuts firsthand, and what happens on the national level has a trickle-down affect.
The impact of cutting funding in Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would affect the National Cancer Institute, which would be hit with a $1 billion cut compared to its 2017 budget. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute would see a $575 million cut. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would see a reduction of $838 million. And to top it off, the administration would cut the overall National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget from $31.8 billion to $26 billion — affecting all aspects of its operation, including grant funding to research departments.
What’s more, these are just a few examples. Not only do these cuts threaten future research, but they could cut vital resources for the millions of patients every year, who now have a prospect of a life without a degenerative illness — and those who experience far less adverse drug reactions and other side effects due to the success of clinical trials. These budget cuts could eliminate the funding for current trial patients, because investigational medications are almost always covered by the sponsor of clinical trials. A funding cut could leave patients with either not getting medication, or waiting until drugs get approved and become commercially available, and then, they would pay astronomically higher prices.
As someone who works for a local Institutional Review Board (IRB) whose job it is to ensure the rules and research regulations are followed, and that investigation ensures that the rights, safety, and welfare of its subjects are protected, this would be devastating to patients who are already a vulnerable population due to their illness. A single treatment of some chemotherapy drugs, with good insurance, costs approximately $3,000; without insurance, that same one-time treatment can cost close to $20,000. From behavioral health, to HIV treatment and prevention, to cardiac devices, cutting this vital funding would be going backwards.
Luckily, the 21st Century Cures Act passed overwhelmingly in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate with strong bipartisan support, and was signed into law on December 13, 2016. “This legislation provides the NIH with critical tools and resources to advance biomedical research across the spectrum, from foundational basic research studies to advanced clinical trials of promising new therapies,” the NIH explains. “One of the biggest affects of the Cures Act, will be allocating $1.8 billion dollars over seven years for The Cancer Moonshot to accelerate cancer research aims to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving practitioner’s ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.”
While the 21st Century Cures Act is a step in the right direction, Trump is a ticking time bomb, who irradicably and unanimously makes decisions that directly oppose logic and progress. The legislation is only in place for now, and tomorrow is never guaranteed. Now is the time to educate yourself, and if you are able, donate to the NIH to help the life-saving efforts being conducted by nurses, physicians, and clinicians across the country. And be ready to call on Congress to act if research funding is threatened.
At some point, we and our loved ones will be the recipient of life-saving medicine in the specialties of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, oncology, mental health, and countless others. Our future is too important not to protect.
Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.