Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on President Trump’s FY18 Budget Proposal

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The president’s proposed FY18 budget is an imbalanced, heavy-handed approach to bolstering national defense at the expense of other American priorities, including the research and innovation crucial to national security. Instead of weakening our nation with this approach, we urge the 115th Congress to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal that will ensure that both defense and non-defense priorities are sufficiently funded. While labeled as ‘discretionary,’ research and innovation supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration strengthen our nation’s security and economic prosperity. Consistently, surveys show how highly Americans rank securing better health and quality of life; the president’s blueprint is tone-deaf to that reality. Steep funding cuts for the federal health agencies are counterproductive at a time when innovative research is moving us closer to identifying solutions for rare diseases, new prevention strategies to protect Americans from deadly and costly conditions, advances in gene therapy, new technologies for understanding the brain, and treatments that harness the ability of our immune system to fight cancer. Health services research, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is folded into NIH in the budget proposal, but funding is far below what’s needed to combat deadly errors and costly inefficiencies in our health care system.

Congress recognizes the urgency in keeping research for health at the forefront of national priorities, as it has signaled with back-to-back, significant increases for the NIH in FY16 and FY17. Strong bipartisan support for research must continue in FY18, and at the same time, Congress should act to lift the budget caps that threaten to hamstring non-defense discretionary appropriations. To seize this opportunity in medical and health research and innovation, and address the twin specters of disease and ever-rising health care costs held over every family and the nation as a whole, we must urge our congressional representatives to step up. Chairmen Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and Ranking Members Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are among those to be specially commended for their ongoing leadership and commitment to protecting the health of Americans.

For current estimates on how the proposed FY18 budget could impact medical and health research agencies, visit http://bit.ly/2qdxXiJ.

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco