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K Street has a new king of hearts.
Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, on Friday began his one-year term as president of the American Heart Association.
And he plans to spend plenty of time on Capitol Hill, urging budget-conscious Members not to cut government programs that fund medical research, including the National Institutes of Health.
“We need to change the tenor of the discussion about NIH,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s not an expenditure as much as it is an investment.”
While that might be a tough sell in this Congress, Tomaselli and the AHA lobby team plan to head up to the Hill with lots of data showing every NIH dollar generates $2 to $3 for private businesses.
Of course, he argues about the upside for health benefits as well. But even that has a fiscal benefit.
“It will be too expensive to treat disease; we have to prevent disease,” Tomaselli said.
Some of the group’s other policy goals include working on the implementation of last year’s health care law and looking at ways to reduce sodium in Americans’ diets.
During the doctor’s one-year term as the AHA’s unpaid president, he will continue to run his cardiology research lab at Johns Hopkins and see patients in a clinic.
“It integrates with my patient-care life,” he said.