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Advocates for Medical Research Call for Investments in the National Institutes of Health

September 14, 2018

A broad coalition of medical research advocates, including researchers and stakeholders representing more than 300 organizations and institutions, are urging Congress to make funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority.

Advocates called on federal lawmakers to invest in medical research in order to support life-saving and life-changing medical research to combat deadly diseases and debilitating chronic conditions. They emphasized that NIH-supported research leads to improvements in health that bolster the economy, improve workforce productivity through enhanced health, and reduce the costly burden of illness and disability.

Medical schools and teaching hospitals in Pennsylvania are conducting medical research that has led to ground-breaking advancement and cutting edge treatments including Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy.

During fiscal year (FY) 2017, federal research funding through the NIH supported $1.67 billion in total funds awarded to 3,582 grantees at 102 research sites in Pennsylvania. California, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania are the leading states in the award of NIH grant funding.

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates spending by medical schools and teaching hospitals in Pennsylvania contributes to 311,941 jobs and $25.73 billion to the state’s economy. 

Throughout this year, medical research advocates have called for a $2 billion increase to the NIH budget. This week, Congress finalized negotiations on a spending agreement that prioritizes new investments in medical research through the NIH and additional resources to fight the opioid epidemic.

Under that agreement, the NIH will receive a total of $39.1 billion, an increase of $2 billion above the FY 2018 enacted level. Specific research investments include:

  • $2.34 billion, a $425 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research
  • $400 million, a $100 million increase, for the Cancer Moonshot research initiative
  • $429 million, a $29 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative
  • $140 million, an increase of $40 million, for research to develop a universal influenza vaccine
  • $550 million, an increase of $37 million, for research on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
  • $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” pediatric cancer research initiative

In addition to the increased funding for the NIH, the agreement includes:

  • $3.8 billion (an increase of $206 million over FY 2018) for opioid activities including $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response grants, of which 15 percent is set aside for the most impacted states, such as Pennsylvania
  • $584 million in new funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • $4 million increase for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which has been targeted for elimination by the Administration
  • $325 million for the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program, an increase of $10 million above the FY 2018 enacted level
  • $264 million, level funding, for the Hospital Preparedness Program

Congress faces a September 30 deadline to fund federal programs and priorities in order to avoid a government shutdown.

This week, both the House and Senate approved a three-bill spending package that funds the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, legislative operations and military construction.

The Senate is expected to vote on the second spending package—which funds the Departments of Health & Human Services, Education, Labor, and Defense, amounting to 87 percent of all discretionary funding—early next week. All other agencies that have not been separately funded will be subject to a “continuing resolution” which extends funding at the current level through December 7.

HAP urges federal lawmakers to support new cures and medical innovations, and foster positive economic development by swiftly enacting the proposed $2 billion increase in NIH funding.

Contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s vice president, federal advocacy, with questions.

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