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Funding priorities…Sure we spend money, but not with very good aim.

As appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune, October 31, 2014

The Star Tribune reports that spending on the Minnesota campaigns for governor and the state House has topped $22 million. The Center for Public Integrity reports that roughly $998 million has been spent on television ads for state-level offices and Senate seats nationally.

To fight Ebola — which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives globally — Congress appropriated $88 million; NBC and CNN report $57.2 million raised by six charities. Ebola funds raised: $145.2 million.

Pulmonary fibrosis (known as PF or IPF) — the disease that is killing me — takes 40,000 American lives a year, the same number as breast cancer. Over the last five years, spending on PF research by the National Institutes of Health has averaged $32.6 million a year (0.11 percent of NIH’s budget). Minnesota ranks 17th in PF mortality in the United States.

We must reorder the public’s and our government’s priorities. $998 million for (senseless?) political campaign spending, $145 million to fight Ebola and less than $33 million ($150 per pulmonary fibrosis fatality annually) to find a cure for PF, which is but 1 of 7,000 so-called rare diseases in the United States. There is a crisis in funding medical research in America. We all need to speak loudly to that clear and present danger.

Paul Fogelberg, Wayzata

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