Research!America applauds the funding levels included in the draft appropriations bill (press summary) released by the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
The devastation COVID-19 has wrought and the suffering and uncertainty it continues to cause spotlight a larger reality: health-focused research and public health readiness should become national imperatives. Under the steadfast leadership of Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), the House Labor-H bill appropriately treats medical progress and public health capacity as key federal priorities. Americans agree: 85% believe it’s important for the President and Congress “to assign a higher priority to ensuring faster medical progress,” according to a national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The bill would provide a robust total budget increase of $3.5 billion to the core budget of the National Institutes of Health. Stronger NIH funding will empower researchers to accelerate progress against pandemics and the host of diseases and conditions that cause untold suffering and cut lives short. The bill would also provide $3 billion to stand up a new agency, “ARPA-H,” a welcome addition to the nation’s public and private sector arsenal against existing and emergent health threats.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The draft legislation would also provide a critically needed $2.7 billion increase to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget. The CDC is our nation’s front line — not only against pandemics, but against the opioid crisis, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” disparities in health and health care, and everyday threats to communities nationwide. Our nation’s strength depends on the CDC’s strength. The draft legislation would help revitalize an agency that has experienced years of funding neglect.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — another historically underfunded agency — would also see a strategically significant funding increase. AHRQ funds health services researchers who produce the evidence needed to assure patients are receiving the right care in the right setting at the right time, maximizing the return on medical progress. AHRQ-funded research focused on optimizing care has led to federal savings that dwarf the funding AHRQ receives each year. By increasing the AHRQ budget, Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole demonstrate their vision for medical progress built on fast-paced research and its application in a rock-solid, evidence-based health care system.
Health care progress coupled with public health progress are facets of our national defense. The House Labor-H draft appropriations bill reflects the need to treat health-focused research as a national imperative. The future may be uncertain, but the value of saving lives through research is not. We are grateful to Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for championing this health-forward bill.