In a letter to his Senate colleagues, Dr. Coburn urged senators to put patients' care above politics when it comes to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and disease-specific legislation.
In the letter, Dr. Coburn wrote:
Congress has an important role in the war on disease. We must hold the agencies’ feet to the fire and ensure they are meeting their mission of reducing the morbidity and mortality rates for the diseases that kill Americans and others. The American people who struggle against disease, however, do not want Congress micromanaging scientific priorities and promise, including mandating exactly how much NIH or CDC spend on a particular disease, body part, or research project. They want us to hold the agencies accountable for misspending dollars or failing to meet their mission. Disease-specific earmarking politicizes science and undermines the medical expertise, experience, and judgment of the scientists at those agencies in which we are investing so much, and the patient and provider communities they work with and on whom they rely. It is precisely this principle that has resulted in the longstanding, bipartisan tradition that Congress not earmark or micromanage NIH funding.
Additionally, Dr. Coburn informed his colleagues he will not give his consent to unanimously pass any legislation which:
• Duplicates existing federal efforts;
• Does not contain accountability, transparency, and performance standards;
• Creates a new federal program that duplicates another program(s);
• Does not sunset at a date certain so Congress can evaluate its impact before determining whether or not it should be continued;
• Restricts the ability of CDC or NIH to ethically respond to new and emerging disease threats;
• Interferes with the scientific peer-review process;
• Includes a disease- or body-part-specific research mandate or disease-specific new program;
• Is not the “last resort” after a series of oversight hearings, letters, and investigations have demonstrated a gross failure or inability on the part of a federal agency.
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