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Advocates Call For Bill That Could Help Cure Disease, Find Better Treatments

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There's federal legislation in the works that could significantly change the health of the country. Supporters gathered on the Main Line Friday to push for the bill.

Funding for medical research has been flat for about a decade. That could change if the act is passed. It would cover everything from Alzheimer's Disease and diabetes to Parkinson's and MS.

Twelve-year-old Sarah Murnaghan (pictured above) joined Congressman Patrick Meehan, advocating for the legislation called the 21st Century Cures Act, that would increase funding for medical research.

"Of the known 10,000 diseases, we have cures for just a few hundred of them," Meehan said.

Sarah, who has Cystic Fibrosis (CF), had a double lung transplant two years ago after her parents successfully battled restrictions that would have prevented the lifesaving surgery.

"We need a cure for CF," said her mother, Janet Murnaghan. "We can all agree curing diseases is in everyone's best interest."

"The legislation increases funding for N.I.H. by ten billion dollars over five years," adds Meehan, "and puts more resources into the hands of the FDA to speed testing and approval of life saving treatments."

Meehan and other advocates in the medical community want the senate to join the house in passing the bill.

"You think it can never happen to you," said Rhoda Mull, who has ALS. Her future depends on research to find better treatments, that would be supported by the Cures Act.

"I am here today because I want my life back," she says.

"We are at the cusp of so many areas, hopefully this can push us over the top," says Meehan.

The legislation that's in a senate committee has been supported by both democrats and republicans.

The White House has noted the bipartisan support. The President says preventing and curing disease --improving health -- is a top priority of the administration.

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