Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on President Trump’s FY19 Budget Proposal

Monday, February 12, 2018

We had hoped that President Trump’s budget would reinforce Congress’ determination, embodied in the bipartisan budget agreement, to advance U.S. research and development (R&D) and other crucial American imperatives.  We appreciate the president’s support for greater investments to address the opioid crisis and mental health, and proposed funding increases for the Food and Drug Administration. However, freezing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation and other agencies that fuel our R&D capacity at 2017 levels while China and other competitor nations rush to take the lead in science and technology puts our nation at risk.  Federal science agencies are producing and funding transformative ideas that contribute to better health and economic growth but they are proceeding with one hand tied behind their back, even as China and other countries aggressively invest in research and development.  

Proposed funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is woefully inadequate to combat current and emerging public health challenges. The proposed budget’s elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund and reduction in the Public Health Preparedness and Response Fund demonstrates a disregard for evidence-based strategies to preempt deadly and disabling diseases. We are also concerned that the president’s budget would fold the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) into the NIH and cut its funding. This is a strategic mistake that dilutes the agency’s critical mission to address waste and inefficiencies in our health care system. Research supported by AHRQ has reduced medical errors, improved quality of care and produced robust data for health care professionals. In short, the president’s budget does not reflect the opinions of a majority of Americans (79%) who say putting health research and innovation to work to assure continued medical progress should be a high priority for this Administration. Fortunately, this budget is not the last word on FY19 spending bills. Congressional leaders have stated their commitment to strengthening investments in research and innovation. We look forward to working with them as they make funding decisions in the coming months.

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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