Saturday, August 01, 2009

Update on NIH funding

Here is an update, also from ATS, on proposed funding for NIH in 2010. The Senate is advocating half the raise in NIH funding that the House did. They feel that NIH got a lot of economic stimulus money, and therefore doesn't need the raise as much. I'd disagree. First off, stimulus funding is temporary. It only lasts two years, and the NIH, knowing this, has used those funds for short-term projects. That is wise as there's no point in starting a research project that could all go to waste if the money isn't available to fund it in two years.

The NIH budget has been under seige for years now, thus a raise simply helps the NIH keep up with the cost of things.


Senate Committee Approves Annual Health Funding Bill

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Inouye (D-HI), met and quickly approved its version of the FY2010 health research and services spending bill, following the Labor-HHS-ED Subcommittee's action two days earlier. The bill provides $72.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Priority funding areas within the Department of Health and Human Services budget include $354 million for pandemic influenza preparedness, $380 million for cancer prevention and control at the CDC and $333 million for global health activities, also through CDC, specifically targeted for measles vaccination, a new chronic disease initiative and global health workforce development.

Funding allocations for specific programs will become available over the next few days, but some numbers for overall agencies have been released. Under the FY2010 Senate Labor-HHS bill, the NIH would receive about a 1.4 percent funding increase, for a total funding level of $30.840 billion. This level is lower than the House-passed FY2010 Labor-HHS bill allocation for NIH of $31.2 billion, a 3 percent increase. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Inouye explained this difference between the House and Senate bill's funding of NIH by pointing out that most of the funding for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) is being disbursed during fiscal year 2010, so as a result the committee is not providing additional large increases to those programs that received large adjustments under the ARRA, including NIH. Sen. Inouye stated, "The Committee expects to put a higher priority on these critical programs in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill."

The Senate Labor-HHS bill puts a stronger focus on prevention than the House bill, and for this reason, the CDC is slated for a much larger increase under the Senate bill, from $6.357 billion in FY09 to $6.789 billion in FY2010, a 6.2 percent increase.
The next step in the process for the health spending bill is a Senate floor vote, which may come as early as the week of August 3, just before the Senate adjourns for the summer on August 7. Following this action, a House/Senate conference committee will work out differences with the House bill, which was passed by that chamber on July 24.

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