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Don't let ObamaCare debate derail search for lifesaving medical cures

In one of their final votes before heading home for Congress’ annual summer recess, House Republicans voted to repeal ObamaCare – for the 40th time.  

While this bill will not go any further with the Democratic-controlled Senate than their last 39 attempts, the Republicans’ repeated efforts to vocalize their staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act demonstrate how controversial the policy remains.  

The fight over Obama’s health care law will only become more heated when Congress reconvenes, as the new state insurance marketplaces – a signature piece of Obama’s law – are set to open for enrollment shortly thereafter.  

Some Republican Congressmen now say that unless the law is defunded, they will not pass a budget, which is needed to fund the government beyond September 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Currently 444 new medicines and treatments are being tested by America’s biopharmaceutical research companies to treat and possibly even prevent a variety of debilitating neurological disorders.

This partisan bickering is unproductive for our country and, more importantly, preventing us from addressing the real challenges facing our nation.   

Democrats and Republicans need to replace political fights over the budget and efforts to defund ObamaCare with the development of a pro-growth agenda that focuses on economic development, jobs, and innovation.  

Yet while our political leaders continue to fight about the details and implementation of a bill that was passed three years ago, radical achievements in other areas of health care are being overshadowed.  

A report released last week revealed there are currently 444 new medicines and treatments being tested by America’s biopharmaceutical research companies to treat and possibly even prevent a variety of debilitating neurological disorders.

There are over 600 neurological disorders affecting millions of Americans every year.  Some of these disorders are well known such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis, while others are more obscure, but they are all severely crippling. In addition to physical suffering, these disorders cause both patients and their families immense pain and hardship, and cost the U.S. government billions of dollars.  

Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and affects roughly 5.4 million people. Without effective treatment, that number is expected to triple by 2050.  The current cost of care of Alzheimer’s patients to American society is $203 billion dollars -- a figure that is projected to increase to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Recently, however, serious advances have been made in the treatment of neurological disorders. The boundaries of medical and scientific research are being pushed to new extremes, paving the way to innovative products that could potentially reverse the effects of or even prevent these devastating diseases entirely, reducing the overall cost to American society.

Among the 444 medicines in development are a few that represent truly revolutionary scientific approaches to medicine. 

For instance, several of these new medicines and treatments are using gene therapy to repair and restore damaged cells, enabling doctors to treat neurological disorders by replacing mutated genes or inactivating mutated genes that cause debilitating symptoms. 

A similar therapy, “Targeted RNAi Therapy,” is also in clinical testing stages.

In addition to providing patients and their families with hope, these groundbreaking scientific methods are helping researchers to understand more about the genes that affect the development of particular neurological disorders.  

A deeper understanding here could potentially lead to new ways of slowing or even reversing the effects of these diseases, which would cut costs significantly. 

According to the report, delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by just 5 years could reduce the cost of care by $447 billion in 2050.

At a time when the implementation of health care reform remains a point of contention between the Democrats and Republicans, it is critical that we do not let these types of innovative medical achievements go unnoticed, or lose focus on the need for a continued national commitment to develop new, lifesaving medicines and treatments.

The persistent efforts of biopharmaceutical scientists in America have brought cutting-edge treatment options to patients, lessening the physical and emotional burdens of these disabling neurological diseases, and improving their overall quality of life.   

This in turn has significant impact on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of our health care system.  

We simply cannot let ongoing battles surrounding our country’s health care system and the budget to allow us to lose sight of the importance of developing new medicines and treatments, and on medical innovation.

Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of 11 books. His latest, co-authored with Malik Kaylan is "The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership (Encounter Books, September 2014). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.