The Philly Daily News' John Baer -- who, as he points out, is rarely cheerleader for Arlen Specter -- praises today the former senator's efforts to continue his advocacy for the National Institutes of Health even after he has left office. Specter is pushing for a "Cures Acceleration Network" within NIH (he proposed it at $500 million in the health care law, though appropriators dropped it to $50 million) to help pharmaceutical companies fund the expensive gap between research and treatment:
Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law last March, funding for the cures network is stalled. And some congressional Republicans are mounting counter-efforts to strip the money from the law.
Because of that, the push to cut overall spending and (I imagine) uncertainty about eventual legal rulings on the controversial health-care law, Specter is trying another approach.
"The approach is to start with people," he says, "There are an estimated 110 million people affected directly or indirectly by diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, heart disease, stroke, autism and more."
He advocates a national march on Washington.
"I think they could put a million people on the mall if they tried," he says.
He also wants to tap into nationally organized groups dedicated to fighting specific diseases, such as the Parkinson's Action Network, and major institutions capable of raising and benefiting from research funding such as Penn, Pitt, MIT and UCLA.
With the help of a few former Senate aides, he's organizing a fundraising effort to mount a lobbying effort and plans to push a national campaign "everywhere I go."