Cruz makes personal plea for Alzheimer's research

Cruz makes personal plea for Alzheimer's research
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Lies, damned lies and impeachable lies Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday made a personal plea for the federal government to spend more to cure diseases like Alzheimer's, which took the life of his grandmother. 

In a subcommittee hearing he convened, Cruz struck a dramatic tone as he lambasted the government’s current spending levels for diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer.

“We’re spending over $1.1 trillion a year in treatment costs, and we’re investing collectively about $9.9 billion in medical research,” he told a panel, which included former Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.), who left office last year to fight prostate cancer.

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“Does that ratio seem appropriate, not only in terms of dollars and cents, but also in terms of the human lives that are dealing with the terrible consequences?” he asked the subcommittee's panel.

Blasting the “regulatory burdens of uncertainty,” Cruz joined several of his Republican colleagues in urging reforms of the Food and Drug Administration.

Coburn, who was trained as a medical doctor, pointed to the recently passed House bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes an overhaul of the FDA.

The former senator called the bill a “good start,” highlighting its bipartisan backing, but he said the Senate’s companion bill should focus far more on payment and intellectual property reforms.

“If we really want to get new advances and if we really want to hurry it up ... then what we have to do is change intellectual property and change the way we pay for it,” Coburn said.

The hearing also turned personal for Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocrats seek leverage for trial Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections MORE (R-Wis.), who spoke about his daughter, who was born with a serious congenital heart defect.

But members overall spoke little of the House’s cures bill, which also includes a nearly $9 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health.

That bill has drawn concern from Cruz’s conservative counterparts in the House, who argue that any funding increase should be discretionary — requiring Congress to revisit it each year — instead of mandatory

The bill also includes additional funding for the FDA, an agency that Coburn acknowledged is deeply strained financially.

“I think we’re way underfunded, but I think we need to have better oversight because they make some errors that are just plain stupid,” he said.