Author: Susan Peschin, MHS
Date: March 16th, 2017
Washington, D.C., March 16, 2017 - Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) President and CEO Susan Peschin, MHS, has issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint released today:
The president’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Overall cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) budget totaling upwards of $15 billion will likely cause drastic reductions in funding for biomedical research; food and medical product safety; and efficient clinical care delivery.
Many of our cherished health and longevity gains have come from research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest source of biomedical research funding. For example, death rates from cardiovascular disease have declined by more than 70 percent since 1963, with more than half of the decline coming in the last 20 years. NIH–funded research has also led to development of vaccines to protect against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cervical cancer.
Yet medical research itself will be placed on life support if the president’s funding cuts were to be enacted by Congress. The NIH's budget would be drastically cut by nearly $6 billion, which is about 20 percent of the agency's current budget. Cuts of this magnitude would largely erase the funding increases enacted with bipartisan support in recent years.
The proposed consolidation of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) into the NIH suggests an aggressive effort to not only reduce the agency’s funding, but also its authority. AHRQ produces the real-world evidence needed to make health care safer, higher-quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable and to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. If the goal of the Budget Blueprint is to encourage more efficient health care, this provision is cutting off the nose to spite the face.
We applaud the president and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for recognizing that the FDA’s process for reviewing medical products cannot be sustained or improved without increased resources. However, the proposed funding mechanism to offset a 30 percent reduction in agency appropriations with a doubling of industry user fees is unrealistic and potentially dangerous. The biopharmaceutical and device industries already provide substantial support to the FDA for its regulatory work on medical products. Reducing FDA’s public funding by a third will erode confidence in the agency’s independence from industry and fail to adequately support important activities that fall under the FDA’s purview to protect the food and drug supply. Additionally, we fear that this move could further discourage industry from pursuing late-stage development of medical products in high-risk areas, which is already a costly endeavor.
Ultimately, Congress must decide how federal funding for the NIH, AHRQ, and the FDA will be appropriated. We urge congressional leaders on both sides of the political aisle to support strong federal funding for these agencies and to stand up for research and innovation that improves health and well-being for all Americans.
About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit www.agingresearch.org for more information.