Statement of Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on President Biden’s FY23 Budget Proposal
While Research!America appreciates the many positive aspects of President Biden’s budget proposal, we are deeply disappointed in the shockingly low (0.6% percent) increase provided to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Funding growth in many critical areas of S&T and medical and public health research is unquestionably worthy and indeed, overdue. We applaud President Biden for bolstering funding for other critical research and public health agencies, including CDC, FDA, AHRQ and NSF, but the American people need and value fast-paced medical progress, which cannot be accomplished without fueling the barrier-breaking foundational research and other key research NIH funds and conducts.
The anemic funding increase for NIH included in the President’s budget will not put us in a position to confront and defeat longstanding, emerging, and yet unknown health threats or bolster our research capacity to ensure global competitiveness.
With the exception of grossly insufficient NIH funding, we are otherwise heartened and grateful by the emphasis President Biden has placed on strengthening science and technology, medical and public health research, and pandemic preparedness in his FY23 budget proposal.
Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H): Research!America supports President Biden’s vision for supporting high risk, high reward public-private R&D as demonstrated by the $5 billion increase included for ARPA-H in his budget proposal (up from $1 billion in FY22). This health innovation incubator, modeled after DARPA and ARPA-E, will empower the public and private sector to aim high in pursuit of transformative, cross-disease R&D advances. We hope and believe ARPA-H can bring about progress that saves millions of lives around the globe while significantly strengthening U.S. competitiveness in the global economic arena. Funding for ARPA-H must complement – not supplant – NIH funding to achieve the agency’s aspirational objectives; it’s another critical opportunity to build on NIH-funded research to promote the public health and public good.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The President’s budget recommends an increase of $2.25 billion for the CDC (26.8% over FY22). 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. This welcome funding increase would bolster an agency that has faced years of inadequate funding, supporting its capacity to address a range of public health threats and potential global crises.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Research!America strongly supports the President’s proposed $355 million increase (10.7% over FY22) for the FDA. This under-funded agency’s broad and important mission calls for additional resources. FDA’s role in ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs is essential – without FDA’s vigilance and commitment to patients – potential improvements to health would never be realized. Overall, FDA regulates more than $2.8 trillion in products, which account for 20 percent of annual spending by U.S. consumers. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to assure robust resources for this agency going forward.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): The budget proposal provides an increase of $26 million to AHRQ (7.4% over FY22), a welcome down payment on the funding growth this historically underfunded agency needs and merits. AHRQ has an essential role to play in ensuring our nation’s healthcare system adapts to the hard lessons imparted by COVID-19. On an ongoing basis, 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.
National Science Foundation (NSF): The budget recommends an increase of $1.66 billion to NSF (18.8 % over FY22). We perceive this proposed increase as an important marker, reflecting the imperative of leveraging R&D to dramatically strengthen our nation’s ability to confront existential threats and secure our competitiveness in the global economic arena. A national public opinion survey Research!America commissioned in January of 2022 found that 9 in 10 Americans across party lines believe U.S. global leadership in science and technology is important. We look forward to working with policymakers to build on this investment in much needed science & technology research, STEM education and training, and other urgent science and innovation priorities.
The President’ FY23 budget also proposes an array of strong funding initiatives to aid in pandemic preparedness and mitigate future biological threats. As we near 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, the need to pre-empt future public health threats has never been clearer. We are fully supportive of mandatory spending to be proactive rather than reactive against infectious disease threats.
Apart from the President’s budget, we urge the Administration and Congress to act now, devoting resources to speeding R&D against COVID-19 variants and the next pandemic. We can fight faster – we must fight faster – to fend off this and the next threat to our nation and the global community. Our nation can save millions of lives and trillions of dollars by recognizing that the next pandemic could descend before this one abates – now is the time to accelerate pandemic R&D – we simply cannot afford wishful thinking.
We look forward to continuing to work with the President, his Administration, and Congress to strengthen funding for pandemic preparedness, science and technology, and medical and public health research across agencies and institutes to ensure America can retain its place as the global leader in medical innovation, for the good of our nation and the world.
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