John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City hopes for passage of a Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit bill, even as another bill in the Iowa Legislature seeks to limit state tax credits. The proposed Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit would be an incentive for donors to support nonprofits conducting ethical research in Iowa, utilizing adult stem cells to advance cures and therapies for various diseases. The institute, also known as JPIIMRI, would likely be among just a few recipients of the tax credit, which would be capped at $10 million.
Supporters say that large academic research institutes, such as the University of Iowa, already receive large amounts of research funds through their alumni associations and donor networks. “It’s not a level playing field for smaller nonprofits like ours,” says Jay Kamath, CEO, of JPIIMRI. “The success of this bill will enable small nonprofits such as ours to compete against larger academic institutes and for-profit medical organizations that are better funded.”
JPIIMRI focuses on diseases that historically receive little attention or currently have no effective medical treatment options or therapies. These areas include neurodegenerative disorders, rare diseases, cancer and diseases that would benefit from adult stem cells (e.g. pulmonary and cardiac diseases, and autoimmune and metabolic disorders).
House File 240 (the Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit bill) passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee. It is now eligible for debate. The tax credit is intended for a nonprofit “engaged in research designed to improve patient care through the development and dissemination of novel clinical therapies for the functional repair and replacement of diseased tissues and organs, including research for treatment of cancer.” Excluded would be postsecondary institutions or any entity receiving 25 percent or more of its annual budget from a postsecondary institution.
While JPIIMRI’s work deserves our financial and moral support, the economic climate in Iowa could doom the Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit bill. Already, legislators are scrambling to deal with a projected revenue shortfall of $131 million in the current fiscal year. House Study Bill 187 proposes to cap and reduce tax credit programs in the state from a total of $427 million to $370 million, according to the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC). While that bill has not advanced out of an Appropriations subcommittee, ICC Executive Director Tom Chapman said legislators may keep working on it. The legislative session is heading into its last month or so before adjournment.
Tax credits advance the efforts of some programs and causes that the ICC supports as the public policy voice of Iowa’s bishops. The Earned Income Tax Credit, which supports working people with lower incomes, especially those with children, is one example of a tax credit that is essential to the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Iowa struggling to make ends meet. The School Tuition Organization tax credit (STO) helps raise private money for scholarships for lower-income students to attend an accredited, nonpublic school. That tax credit has saved the state at least $280 million over the 10 years of its existence, Chapman said a study shows.
Passage of the Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit bill could have a significant impact on the well-being of Iowans, leading to research advances that could benefit children, older citizens and veterans, among others. The proposed legislation has the support and endorsement of the ICC, Iowans for Life, Iowa Right to Life, Johnson County Right to Life and other pro-life advocates.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church supports ethically responsible stem cell research, while opposing any research that exploits or destroys human embryos. JPIIMRI does not engage in embryonic stem cell research.
Support tax credit programs that benefit those most in need in Iowa, including individuals suffering from chronic, serious or rare diseases. Contact your legislators (www.legis.iowa.gov) to let them know you support the Regenerative Medicine Tax Credit bill and the work of John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Then visit the JPIIMRI website (jp2mri.org) to learn more about a nonprofit research company engaged in the work of Matthew 25: “For I was ill … and you cared for me.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor