Congressman Randy Forbes
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AUGUST 21, 2009 Twitter Facebook YouTube Digg RSS
A New (Golden) Age in Healthcare

It began as a one-room laboratory on Staten Island in 1887.  Its mission was to examine passengers on arriving ships for the signs of epidemic-causing diseases such as cholera and yellow fever. At that time, life expectancy was only 47 years and taxpayer financing of medical research was considered a revolutionary social experiment.  In that room, a young physician in a matter of months would make a breakthrough in the identification of cholera bacillus.  He would go on to share that discovery with his colleagues, paving the way for what today holds the greatest promise to revolutionize healthcare in America.

We know this experiment today as the National Institutes of Health. The Staten Island laboratory, since moved to Maryland, is the world’s premier medical research center. It counts among its ranks more than 100 scientists that have received Nobel Prizes in recognition of their work. NIH funding drives 325,000 researchers at over 3,000 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state. These scientists have seen wild successes – from sequencing of the human genome to developing ways to diagnose and treat diseases like cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Just in the last several decades NIH research has been instrumental in driving death rates from heart disease and stroke down by 40% and 51%, respectively.  It has been credited with increasing the overall five-year survival rate for childhood cancers to nearly 80% from under 60% in the 1970s. Infectious diseases that once killed and disabled millions of people are now prevented by vaccines developed in part by the NIH.  The quality of life for 19 million Americans suffering with depression has improved as a result of NIH-related medication and psychotherapy.

The NIH is an engine of America competitiveness, training our nation’s current and next generation of researchers to ensure that American medical innovation remains strong. At a time when America seems driven on course to follow all things European, it is remarkably and beautifully American. Its mission is grand.  Its drive is unrelenting.  And - bottom line - amidst a sea of broken government and red tape: it is effective.

Today, many in Washington believe that the answer to our healthcare challenges is to let the government take over our healthcare system. I firmly oppose the current healthcare proposal before Congress, H.R. 3200, and any other proposal that would lead to a government-takeover of healthcare. And the reason is not just because we would be expanding an already-broken health care system and loading trillions of dollars on our children and grandchildren, although those are very valid reasons. One of the most concerning things to me about a government-takeover of healthcare is that the most important person in the healthcare debate is being left out – the patient.

If we want to create a patient-centered healthcare system that works, we have a lot of work to do. We need to change federal laws to help families keep their health insurance regardless of a change or loss of a job. We need to let small businesses band together to purchase high-quality healthcare for their employees at a more affordable price, just as large corporations and unions do.  We need to focus on prevention and wellness programs to help avoid serious – and costly – illnesses.  We need to rein in junk lawsuits that make healthcare more expensive for everyone and root out waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid that costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year. And we need to allow those with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses the opportunity to obtain healthcare coverage.

In the middle of all the “fixing” we have to do, there is also an opportunity for chart a new course in healthcare in America.  The wealthiest nation in the world ought to be the healthiest nation in the world. But we’re not in many ways, because we are not investing taxpayer funds properly. Just this last year we have spent over seven times as much bailing out automakers than we spent on medical research for the diseases that cause 60% of the deaths in the U.S.

This type of mismatched priority is placing bureaucracy over innovation, restrictions over choice, and – most concerning – politics over patients.

We need to make a shift in Washington. What if we unleashed our best and brightest scientists all across our nation to deliver us health breakthroughs that would directly impact patients? What if we had directed auto bailout dollars to benefit patients by eradicating cancer, eliminating heart disease, wiping out diabetes, and redefining medical treatment for the millions of Americans suffering from health ailments right now?

I believe in front of us is the possibility of a new Golden Age of medical discovery in America. I have introduced legislation to rocket us into that Age. The Accelerate Cures for Patients Act, H.R. 3475, would double funding for medical research at the NIH and prioritize funding towards research that has the greatest potential to become a useful treatment for patients. This project would not be insignificant.  It would be a deliberate investment in the lives of Americans by doubling the current NIH research budget of $30 billion. I would not propose it, however, without offering solutions to pay for it. Completely offsetting an investment of this magnitude is not only possible financially, it is possible politically. I’ve previously identified a pool of savings based on initiatives that both Republicans and Democrats support. This pool of money is triple what's necessary to fund this initiative: $79 billion savings by reducing medical error; $30 billion savings by moving to electronic-based medical systems; and $42 billion savings by reducing Medicare and Medicaid waste.

Patient health is too important to be left in the hands of Congress - the vast majority of us are without the medical, business, or even personal experiences to dictate what care Americans should receive.  Our rejection of a government take-over of healthcare delivery is not a limitation of will or of compassion – but rather a systemic, functional appreciation that the health of Americans is too important to be delegated to bureaucrats in Washington. 

It’s not too late to turn the debate in Washington. Let’s stop making government our fallback. Let’s put the patient back in the center of the healthcare debate, change the scientific and medical landscape of our nation, and make America the resounding leader in international medical discovery.

Honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots

This past Wednesday we recognized National Aviation Day, a time set aside to celebrate the contributions, inventions, and achievements of human flight. While we regularly hear of aviators like the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, there is one group of aviators that is frequently overlooked, despite the fact that they made a significant contribution to our nation’s history and collectively logged more than 60 million miles in flight. That group is the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

During World War II, the WASP became the first women in history to fly American military aircraft.  Despite deep prejudices against their abilities, the WASP collectively contributed to the freedom of our nation.  Thirty-eight women lost their lives in service to the nation, but their sacrifices went largely unacknowledged.  Their parents were not allowed to place gold stars in their windows to honor their daughters’ lives, nor were they allowed to place American flags over their coffins.

After the war, the WASPs were quietly disbanded, and given no benefits or honors. Despite their historic service to our nation, the WASP went more than sixty years without receiving proper recognition.

I recently cosponsored a bill that would give the WASP the recognition and honor they deserve for their role in the story of American freedom.  H.R. 2014 calls on our nation to recognize the military service of the WASP by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation's highest civilian award. The bill also calls for the Smithsonian Institution to make the medal available for display.

Today, the WASP continue to serve as pioneers and role models for the strong and dedicated women who serve in our armed forces today. We owe much to these brave women, whose sacrifices deserve to finally be honored in the United States Congress.

Read more about the WASP.


Don't Miss the Healthcare Reading Guide 



Don't miss Congressman Forbes' Healthcare FAQs and Reading Guide for information on the healthcare bill before Congress and reasons why Congressman Forbes opposes the current bill.


Follow this link to read. 

Free Seniors Protection Workshops


Congressman Forbes is hosting free Seniors Protection Workshops in the Fourth District next week. For more information or to register to attend, use the link below.

Follow this link for information. 

Recognizing Investment and Business Scams

In a weak economy, investment and business opportunity fraud increases. Watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission to learn ways you can be on guard for investment and business scams.  

Follow this link to find out. 

Other News

Aug 18, 2009 
Just the Facts: Debt and Deficit  

Aug 18, 2009
Forbes Published Healthcare Reading Guide  

Aug 4, 2009
Forbes Introduces Bill to Extend Homebuyer Credits to Military Members Serving Overseas  

Congressman Forbes speaks at a Disabled American Veterans ceremony.
Congressman Forbes meets with students of Great Hope Baptist School.
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