On Tuesday, April 9th a family of You’re the Cure advocates journeyed to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to explain to Members of Congress why they need to increase their investment in medical research to combat cardiovascular disease and ask for Congressional action to stop the proliferation of e-cigarette use in middle and high schools.
hero_image_alt_text===Gabby Ralphe, Dr. J Carter Ralphe, Sarah Ralphe
thumbnail_alt_text===Gabby Ralphe, Dr. J Carter Ralphe, Sarah Ralphe
The highlight of the trip was Dr. J. Carter Ralphe, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology and Director of the congenital heart program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies about the importance of federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. While Dr. Ralphe had only 5 minutes to testify, he made the most of his time. His main point was simple. That robust investment in research conducted by the NIH saves lives! He emphasized that because of NIH supported research, babies born with complex congenital heart defects now have over a 95% survival rate. Twenty years ago, this was generally considered a death sentence. It was especially important to get this message out, after the President only weeks earlier, released his proposed budget, which calls for a cut of nearly $5 billion for NIH research.
Dr. Ralphe spoke in front of a bipartisan group of Representatives and his message was well received, with the Subcommittee Chairwoman going so far as to say “that will not stand” in reference to the President’s proposed budget cuts. The Ranking Member concurred and said that Congress has no intention of reversing its course and will continue to build on recent budget increases for the NIH.
Dr. Ralphe was not the only member of his family that came to Washington D.C. to share their concerns with Congress. He was accompanied by his two teenage daughters, who are concerned about the growing use of e-cigarettes among their peers, which former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb called “an addiction crisis.” They called for swift Congressional action to help curb the crisis.
In meetings with Senator Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), they said it’s not uncommon to see students at school sneaking away to the bathroom for a “quick hit” and selling their clothes to afford their habit. Their experience highlights the troubling trend of teen tobacco use, especially with regards to flavored e-cigarette products, and serves as further proof that we need to achieve our goal and reach the Tobacco Endgame today!
We appreciate the efforts of the Ralphe family! They did a fantastic job of representing You’re the Cure advocates on Capitol Hill and their efforts will go a long way towards securing greater investment in life-saving medical research and in combating growing use of e-cigarettes and similar products among teens. These issues impact millions of people across the country and it is vitally important that Congress is made aware.
Thank you to the Ralphe family and stay tuned for ways that you can help bolster their efforts with lawmakers.