Now that the president's budget has been released to Congress, the House and Senate are setting overall spending limits. On March 20, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)released his budget plan, which proposes a spending reduction of $19 billion below the spending limits set in last year's Budget Control Act (BCA). As of this writing, it is unclear how the cuts would be allocated between defense and non-defense discretionary spending, but it is possible that defense spending would be spared or even increased, meaning even deeper cuts to non-defense spending on such priorities as medical research.
The Senate has not yet released an official recommendation for overall government spending, but Senate leadership has indicated that they plan to abide by the levels established in the BCA. This discrepancy could result in a protracted budget debate between the House and Senate.
The lower spending limits proposed in the House could well result in less funding for the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee, which sets spending for the National Institutesof Health, the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, which sets funding levels for the Food and DrugAdministration. On top of these budget debates, the sequester is scheduled to take effect in early January 2013, which would require automatic cuts of 7% to 9% to all agencies. Cuts of this magnitude would be disastrous for medical research.
The bottom line is that enhanced advocacy is needed now more than ever. Research for health is a critical national priority that is too important to cut, and we must work together to make sure policy makers, political candidates and voters get the message.
CPH Foundation Update
The CPH Foundation, as it normally does at this time of year, analyzed the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention's portion of the administration's FY13 budget request to Congress soon after its release in February. What it found was stunning: a huge, $1.4 billion cut in CDC's budget authority since 2010. While there was an effort to backfill some of those cuts with dollars from other budget lines, the backfill dollars come from unstable and threatened sources of funds.
The CPH Foundation checked the impact of inflation; the president's FY13 request, in constant dollars, cuts the CDC back a decade to 2003 funding levels. Nature Magazine picked up on the Foundation's blog post about these cuts and wrote a detailed story based on the Foundation's analysis in its March 1 print publication. The Foundation will continue to work to make the gravity of these cuts known and will continue to track funding and has plans for continued analysis as the budget debates continue this year.