2017-09-13 19:31:11 UTC

Congressional Committees Approve Increase for NIH Funding

Sept. 13, 2017

Senate bill includes funding for gastrointestinal disorders and cancers.

There is strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill to increase the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget, despite proposals from the Trump administration to cut funding from the institutes. The current fiscal year expires on Oct. 1, but Congress passed a three-month temporary spending bill to fund the government until Dec. 8. Congress needs to address the funding bill in December along with increasing the debt ceiling, two must-pass items.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education bill, which included $36.1 billion for NIH, a $2 billion increase over last year’s levels, amounting to a nearly 20 percent increase. The Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill is the largest domestic spending bill and funds our nation’s health programs and agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration. The House Appropriations Committee also approved their version, which included a $1.1 billion increase to NIH funding. 
Earlier this year, President Trump proposed $7.5 billion in cuts to NIH, as well as a cap of 10 percent on the amount of support the government would provide to research institutions for indirect costs, such as utilities, maintenance and other costs to support the facilities. Congress rejected this cap and included specific language in the bills to prevent the administration from capping indirect costs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee bill includes many areas of interest to GI and includes report language that AGA supported for GI research:
  • IBD. Encourages CDC to conduct an epidemiological study of  inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and to focus on increased incidences in minority and underserved communities. Also, encourages the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue to focus IBD research on environmental triggers and epigenetics, and urges the NIH Director’s office to utilize the Common Fund to study the cause of increased prevalence of IBD. 
  • Gastric Cancer. Gastric cancer research is less advanced than many other cancers. The bill encourages the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop a scientific framework for advancing stomach cancer research given that the five-year survival rate remains 30 percent. 
  • Deadliest Cancers. Many of the deadliest cancers, defined as those whose five-year survival rates are less than 50 percent, are GI cancers, such as pancreas, liver, stomach and esophageal. The bill urges NIH and NCI to continue to support research with an emphasis on developing improved screening and early detection tools and more effective treatments for these cancers. 
  • National Commission on Digestive Disease Research. The committee requested an update on the implementation of the National Commission on Digestive Disease Research recommendations that were published in 2009.
Support the Voice of GI
AGA members will be on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day 2018 on Friday, Sept. 15, to ask Congress for increased NIH funding and encourage support for the $2 billion increase for NIH that was included in the Senate appropriations bill. We are pleased that Congress recognizes the value in NIH research and how it helps improve patient care, increase our nation’s economic competitiveness and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.
Contact your member of Congress to show your support for the proposed NIH budget. 
Call your senator using the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you with the senators from your state.
When you reach your senator's office let them know the following:
  • Your name and where you are calling from in the state.
  • You would like to urge the senator to support the fiscal year 2018 Labor, HHS, Education bill to increase funding to NIH and prevent the administration from capping indirect costs for research institutions.
AGA will continue to monitor the budget process and are hopeful the higher funding level for NIH will prevail. 

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