Author: Susan Peschin, MHS
Date: February 9th, 2018
Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) President and CEO Susan Peschin, MHS, has issued the following statement in response to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018:
The Alliance for Aging Research is pleased that Congress reached a bipartisan agreement that the President signed into law this morning to finally raise both the Defense and non-Defense budget caps for FY18 and FY19. The two-year deal is part of another continuing resolution (CR), giving appropriators until March 23 to work out a final omnibus appropriations bill based on higher spending caps.
The previous deal had included only an increase in defense spending, which would have decimated funding for vital domestic health and research programs. This bill will increase spending for non-defense programs by more than $130 billion.
The CR lays out several specific priorities for appropriators, including direction to increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $2 billion and opioid response and mental health funding by $6 billion over the two-year period. We expect $1 billion to be the NIH “funding floor” appropriators build on when finalizing the FY18 omnibus package. The Alliance will push for additional funding for NIH, as well as for robust funding increases in the budgets of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other public health agencies.
We also thank members of Congress for coming together to reauthorize funding for Community Health Centers for the next two years, increasing the total amount by more than $7 billion. Our nation’s community health centers provide high-quality, cost-efficient primary health care to our most underserved communities, including high numbers of Medicare patients who are also eligible for Medicaid because of their low incomes. These “dual eligibles” have extensive health care needs and are significantly more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The spending deal also includes $89.3 billion in “emergency supplemental” funding. This funding, which is outside the budget caps, includes $200 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $50 million for NIH, and $7.6 million for FDA, earmarked specifically for hurricane and wildfire recovery activities. Unfortunately, the caps deal cuts $1.3 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) to help pay for this supplemental funding. We oppose these cuts to the PPHF and will fight to reinstate this funding. The evidence is strong that one of the most effective strategies in “bending the cost curve” in health care is preventing age-related chronic diseases in the first place.
Federal funding for medical research, evidence-based clinical care, and older adult social services and supports is more vital than ever as the U.S. population of adults ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double over the next three decades to 88 million by 2050.
We applaud the Senate and House for passing this measure and the president for signing this important bill quickly. These actions reverse the government shutdown and allow agencies and programs to get back to protecting the health and safety of all Americans. We also look forward to the president’s FY19 budget proposal, expected on Monday, and we urge the administration to put forth a budget that continues this positive trend of strong support for medical and health research.