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Advocates Unite to Urge Congress to Save Vital Funding for CDC Center.

Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Slated for Cuts, Affecting Millions With ADHD, Paralysis, Genetic Blood Diseases and Tourette Syndrome

WASHINGTON, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- On the face of it, E. Clarke Ross and Tricia Brooks seem worlds apart.

Sure, both are Washington policy wonks and passionate about their causes.

But Ross is the chief executive of a mental health organization, and Brooks is a policy director at the Christopher Reeve Foundation, well known for its connection to the late "Superman" star.

However, the two are now finding that they have more in common: Both face massive program cuts as a result of the president's FY 2007 budget proposal for a center at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).

Today Ross and Brooks explain the human toll of the budget cuts to Congress during a briefing on Capitol Hill.

"We have to speak with one voice," says Brooks. "The proposed cuts would negatively impact people across the country."

Since 2000, the NCBDDD has funded numerous programs nationwide dedicated to promoting health and prevention for chronic disabilities, disorders and birth defects.

Given the scope of NCBDDD's mission, Ross's national organization, serving people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD or ADD, and Brooks' organization, serving people with paralysis, have received government funding to promote good health by providing the public with information and education.

But all that could come to an end soon.

The president's FY 2007 proposed budget cuts $10.7 million from four programs within the NCBDDD. In addition to CHADD and the Christopher Reeve Foundation, other organizations with programs targeted for cuts include the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, which serves people with genetic blood diseases, and the Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc., which serves people with a neurobiological disorder that contributes to involuntary vocalizations and movements, commonly referred to as "tics."

"Not all budget cuts are equal," says Russell Kirby, chair of the External Partners Group, which supports the efforts of the NCBDDD. "We know the country is at war and we're running budget deficits. But we're not talking about money for highway beautification programs; we're talking about funding for programs that help thousands of Americans with neurobiological disorders, birth defects, genetic blood diseases and paralysis. Budget cuts should be made in areas that won't have such a harmful impact on the American people."

Advocates say the impact of the cuts goes far beyond their respective organizations. Funding for Cooley's Anemia Foundation, for example, enables treatment centers across the country to provide blood samples to the CDC that would help all Americans in the event of an infectious agent in the nation's blood supply.

And the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center -- brainchild of the late Superman star's widow, Dana, who died of lung cancer in March -- is a critical resource for people living with paralysis from any disease, injury or birth condition and for paralyzed veterans returning from Iraq.

Many experts say the cuts will turn back the hands of time, with the Tourette Syndrome Association being a prime example. Over the last few years, TSA used NCBDDD funding to chip away at the large rate of under diagnosis for the disorder by reaching doctors with information about identifying key traits in patients. But such education efforts would also come to an end if the president's budget cuts are approved.

The 2007 fiscal year runs from October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007. Congress includes funding for CDC under appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kirby said his major concern is that Congress will see the NCBDDD as just another bureaucratic agency that can easily withstand budgets cuts.

"The NCBDDD has in many ways made certain that the most vulnerable among us have a lifeline. Cuts to the CDC budget will affect the federal government's ability to support research that is crucial to a variety of programs serving families across the country.

The External Partners Group is a coalition that works to enhance the mission and activities of the NCBDDD.

CONTACT: Bryan Goodman, +1-301-306-7070, ext. 128, Bryan_Goodman@chadd.org, for External Partners Group

Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/partners/default.htm
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 16, 2006
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