Oct. 16, 2014 09:36 PM

Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.

 

Dear Congressman,

You and I aren't friends on Facebook but for whatever reason you've landed in my news feed a couple of times lately. I brushed off Wednesday's reminder that you're a physician - you do a lot of that, reminding everyone you're an MD - and that the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed.

But your status update today - I know, I know, you most certainly have a social media staff member who does that for you, although I'd like to think you sign off on such communications with the public - about ebola caught my attention. I believe you when you say you'll "do whatever it takes to find and implement working solutions that safeguard the well-being of Louisiana and the United States from this threat," and it's reasonable to opine that "all options must be on the table to protect the health of Louisiana families from ebola," although I'm not convinced limiting flights from at-risk countries is a do-able measure. Maybe it is. I don't know.

What got me to thinking was your concern that "the Center for Disease Control & Prevention thus far has been inept in coordinating an effective response to this outbreak." That's debatable, but I like your assertiveness in insisting that you "will hold them to account" if they dropped the ball.

Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.

Dr. Boustany, are you aware that the CDC's discretionary funding has been cut nearly in half by Congress over the last several years? Did you know that the agency's public health preparedness and response efforts received $1 billion less last year than in 2002? You've been in Congress all that time haven't you? Those funding reductions have meant more than 45,000 fewer employees at state and local health agencies since 2008. Are you aware of all this?

Dr. Boustany, did you read the comments of Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, last week about ebola? "NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001," he told Huffington Post I think it was. "It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.' Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."

So I guess my question to you, Dr. Boustany, is: What's your voting record on funding for the CDC and NIH? Were you part of the cabal of parsimonious penny pinchers who voted in favor of these funding reductions, who harp on government being too big and the private sector doing everything better than government? Is the private sector doing anything about ebola? How about Big Pharma? I'm guessing it hasn't put much effort into ebola vaccine research because ebola overwhelmingly afflicts poor black people in Africa. Hard-on pills have such a higher profit margin.

I'm trying to drill down on your voting record on public health funding since you've been in Congress. It's a pain in the ass trying to find the information, but I'm sure when I do I will confirm you've been a champion of full funding for the CDC and NIH. Because you are, after all, a doctor.

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