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AACR, Research!America urge Congress to pass spending bill with funding boost for health agencies

The American Association for Cancer Research and Research!America are urging Congress to pass the FY20 appropriations bill by Dec. 20.

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley pushed the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations to secure “bipartisan passage of FY20 appropriations before December 20, 2019 and that you remain stalwart in strengthening our nation’s research and public health agencies.”

AACR’s letter, signed by AACR President Elaine R. Mardis and 88 fellows of the AACR Academy included a larger focus on more funding for NIH—and, more specifically, NCI.

In September, a Senate committee recommended a $3 billion increase in NIH funding. Under the Senate bill, NCI’s total budget would be $6.444 billion, over $200 million above the 2019 appropriated level. The total budget amount includes $195 million in Moonshot funds (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 20).

“We want to express our strong support for the $3 billion funding increase for NIH (to $42.1 billion) that was provided in the Senate Chairman’s mark,” the AACR letter states. “Additionally, we encourage you to accept the House’s recommendation for a $300 million increase (to $6.444 billion) for the National Cancer Institute in FY 2020 plus a proportional share of the additional $1 billion that the Senate is proposing for overall NIH funding in its bill.”

Research!America also advocated for funding for NIH, CDC, FDA and NSF.

“As it stands, NIH can fund less than a quarter of the peer-reviewed research proposals scientists in every state across our nation submit to the Institutes each year. As you consider final FY20 funding numbers for NIH, we ask that you continue to invest boldly in this high-return national asset,” the Research!America letter states.

“We also urge you to champion an urgently needed, significant funding increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Research!America letter states. “It is not only critically important to equip the agency to confront such formidable health threats as the opioid crisis and antimicrobial resistance, but to substantially increase the funding CDC can deploy to sustain and bolster its core capacities like surveillance.”

Research!America echoed concerns from September that the bill didn’t include enough funding for CDC or Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In all, the bill combines $178.3 billion in base funding with $9.427 billion in changes in mandatory programs, which amounts to a 1% increase from the 2019 level. This includes $7.518 billion for CDC, and about $256 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“AHRQ is already grossly underfunded, limiting our nation’s ability to identify and eliminate unnecessary health care spending and time-lags between medical progress and main street benefit. …The lack of basic budget authority for AHRQ’s core mission and extraordinary level of uncertainty under which the agency operates run counter to fiscal stewardship and the best interests of the American people.”

If the Senate and House don’t pass the measure by Dec. 20, this could bring on a long-term continuing resolution, which would amount to flat-funding for the health and research agencies.

“We call on you to remove the threat of a long-term continuing resolution that is so concerning to researchers, patient advocates, and the public,” the AACR letter states.

The full text of the Research!America letter is posted here.

The full text of the AACR letter is available here.


Copyright (c) 2019 The Cancer Letter Inc.

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