AADR Comments on Draft HHS Strategic Plan Call Attention to Oral Research

This week, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) submitted feedback to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its draft strategic plan for fiscal years (FY) 2018-2022.

The newest version of the strategic plan takes important steps to achieve its aim to “address complex, multifaceted, and evolving health and human services issues.” Importantly, this included an emphasis on the promotion of evidence-based prevention and practices to achieve better health outcomes – a core component to achieving safer and more efficient, effective and equitable care.

AADR was also pleased, in particular, to see HHS reference oral health throughout its framework. As we think about how best to treat patients and improve health care outcomes, we must ensure that oral health is considered as an integral part of medical and other types of care.

Our comments both commend HHS for its calls to support research, improve access for vulnerable and under-served populations and promote healthy behaviors that have a direct impact on oral health as well as offer suggestions to bring greater representation to oral health issues throughout the plan.

Read AADR’s full comments on the HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022 here.

President Obama’s FY15 Budget Request

Yesterday, President Obama presented his FY15 budget request to Congress. This budget adheres to the caps or the overall amount of funding available for discretionary spending as dictated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and proposes cuts and reforms to make room for, “investments in priority areas such as research, clean energy, early learning and ending homelessness.” The budget released yesterday only includes top line funding levels. Additional detailed information is expected to be released later this week.

Specifically the FY15 President’s budget proposes the following:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), $30.2 billion in total budget authority, an approximate 1% increase over the FY14 level of $30 billion
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), $397.13 million, a $1.5 million or 0.3% decrease from the FY14 appropriated level of $398.65 million or a .01% increase from the FY14 final enacted level of $397.102 million
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, $657.47 million, a $24.2 million or 3.6% increase over the FY14 level of $633.27 million
  • National Science Foundation, $7.255 billion, a 1.2% or $83 million increase from the FY14 level of $7.171 billion
  • Agency for Health Research and Quality $334 million in base discretionary authority, a 8.2% or $30 million decrease from the FY14 level of $364 million.

The President is also proposing increased funding for research through the, “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.” This program if enacted by Congress would provide an additional $28 billion for non defense discretionary programs paid for via tax reforms and changes in mandatory programs. This proposal would include an additional $970 million for the National Institutes of Health, “to increase the number of grants funded and invest in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN).” At this time it is unclear if this proposal would boost funding to other institutes, like NIDCR at the NIH. Also, it is important to note, these proposed targeted increases included in the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” are not included in the aforementioned agency funding proposals outlined above.

The President’s budget is a document that outlines the administration’s funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year and Congress as the authority to approve, reject or modify the recommendations included in the budget.

AADR will continue to advocate for Congress to provide $32 billion for NIH and $425
million for NIDCR in the FY15 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriation Bill.

For additional information click the links below:
Office of Management and Budget Overview
Department of Health and Human Services Budget Appendix
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Congressional Justification

FY14 Appropriations Bill Proposes Funding for NIH, NIDCR and other agencies

Late last night the House and Senate Appropriations Committee released the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014,
which provides proposed funding levels and report language for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  Congress still needs to approve and vote on this legislation in order for it to become law.

First of all, thank you to all our advocates who responded to the AADR Action Alerts, contacted your Members of Congress, invited them to your campuses, wrote editorials and other activities that heightened their awareness of the importance of a strong biomedical research enterprise for America.  Your efforts were noted and against all odds, the Consolidated Appropriations Act contains a Labor-Health and Human Services (L-HHS) appropriations section.

Specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 proposes to fund the National Institutes of Health at $29.926 billion and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at $398.7 million, which is nearly a one billion dollar increase for NIH and an $11.7 million increase from the FY13 post-sequestration level for NIDCR. However, this is still $766 million below FY12 for NIH and $11.6 million below for NIDCR.  It is important to note that the approximate one billion increase provided to the NIH, “…(was) generally distributed proportionately among NIH Institutes and Centers.” The other additional amounts were added to the National Institute of Aging in recognition of Alzheimer’s research and also to other institutes in anticipation of research in connection to the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

Additionally, the explanatory statement accompanying the bill includes report language
encouraging the director of the NIH to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.

“Dental Materials Research-The United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme, International Negotiating Committee completed deliberations in January 2013 on a global legally binding treaty on mercury. The UN agreement contains provisions for the reduction in the use of dental amalgam, as a mercury- added product, and calls for increased dental research into alternative materials. Given the global commitment to reduce all uses of mercury, the NIH Director is expected to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.” (Joint Explanatory Statement, Division H-Depts. Of Labor-HHS-Education pg. 38)

AADR also advocates and tracks funding for a number of institutions.  Click here to view a detailed funding chart.

Other Important Provisions

  • The agreement proposes $32 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oral health training program. Within the $32 million no less than $8 million is dedicated for general dentistry programs and not less than $8 million for pediatric dentistry programs. This section also prohibits health workforce funds to be used for section 340G-1, the Alternative Dental Health Care Providers Demonstration
  • The agreement includes funding for the early childhood caries initiative within the
    Indian Health Services.  According to the report language, “The Service is encouraged to work with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and to consult with Tribes about increasing preventive dental care for children by bringing dentists and hygienists into BIE schools. The Service should continue to make significant strides towards completion of
    electronic dental records. The Service is encouraged to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to address workforce needs similar to those of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, to consider a pilot program for the credentialing of dentists, and to propose funding for fiscal year 2015.”
    The Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention (CDC) programs are directed to actively coordinate with the
    Institutes and Centers of the NIH to identify scientific gaps to accelerate
    understanding of diseases and their prevention knowledge across NIH and CDC
    research portfolios.
  • In accordance with a longstanding tradition funding is not directed to any specific disease research area. The NIH is expected to base its funding decisions only on scientific opportunities and the peer review process.
  • NIH is expected to maintain funding support for basic biomedical research.
  • The NIH Director shall provide a report on Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data within 180 days of enactment to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • The NIH Director and IC Directors are directed to work with the other HHS operating divisions to establish a more systematic means of disseminating research results.
  • The NIH is directed to examine and produce a report on how the post peer review priority setting process, resource allocation process and the portfolio evaluation data and information to ensure that the priority setting process provides decision makers with answers to key questions such as: How the proposed activity
    significantly advances the body of biomedical science; How the proposed activity could contribute to expanding knowledge to improve human health; The relationship and impact of the proposed
    activity to the program goals and objectives; and how the proposed activity could impact the overall research portfolio of the NIH and the national research institute or center involved.
  • The NIH Director shall produce a report regarding the implementation of strategic planning. This report will include information about the prioritization process between rare and neglected diseases while also maintaining a focus balance between translational and basic bio-medical science; and how the plan is harmonized across the NIH ICs to ensure a balanced portfolio that is free of unnecessary duplication and takes advantage of cross-cutting bio-medical research.

For more Information: Click here to read the omnibus appropriations bill and here to read the joint explanatory statement.

What is Next? Today the House will vote on a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government through Jan. 18 to give Congress more time to vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. AADR will keep you informed as this process moves forward.


President’s FY14 Budget Proposes Flat Funding of NIH

Today, President Obama released his much anticipated budget request for Fiscal Year 2014. The President’s Budget Request (PBR) contained $31.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health or a 1.5% increase over the Fiscal Year 2012 level. The administration uses FY12 as a baseline, given that the FY13 budget was set at the FY12 level for the entire year. Reductions of roughly 5.1% will be taken from the FY12/FY13 budget level in most cases. The PBR largely ignores sequestration, as most numbers provided for FY13 are at the pre-sequestration level. In the administration’s funding plan, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is provided $411.5 million or 0.4% more than the FY12 level. The PBR states that it will support 9,400 new and competing grants, an increase of roughly 8%. The increase will be funded largely by reducing continuation awards by 1%, reducing inflationary increases to grants, and reducing the size of awards. Continue reading

Senate Proposals to Boost NIH FY13 Funding Defeated

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Earlier in the week, Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, put forward an amendment to the FY13 continuing resolution/omnibus spending package offered by Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski. The spending package offered by Senator Mikulski would provide a near level-funding base (compared with FY12) for most agencies, with actual budget prioritization for a few agencies (e.g. Commerce, Justice, National Science Foundation, Defense, Homeland Security, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs) and a list of anomalies (including NIH) that would deviate slightly from the flat-funding policy applied to most areas. The roughly 5% sequestration cut to most agencies and programs would then be applied to the base, bring most considerably lower than their FY12 appropriation. Senator Harkin’s amendment adds the Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies spending accounts to the list of agencies that Senator Mikulski has provided actual prioritized budget figures for. According to staff on Senator Harkin’s subcommittee, the amendment has a neutral fiscal impact as it puts off anticipated increases for the implementation of the state exchanges included in the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

Applications Requested for PCORI Advisory Panels

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has issued a call for individuals to serve on its Advisory Panels. There are four panels including: the Advisory Panel on Addressing Disparities; Advisory Panel on Assessment of Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options; Advisory Panel on Improving Healthcare Systems; and Advisory Panel on Patient Engagement. Members of the AADR community are encouraged to apply to these positions. Each of these groups are comprised of patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, and other health care stakeholders, and are charged with assisting PCORI with identify research priorities as well as refining the Institute’s research project agenda. Continue reading

Rep. DeLauro Urges Action, Critiques Fiscal Cliff Deal

Today, in a Capitol Hill meeting with dozens of health and research groups (including AADR), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called on advocates to keep up the pressure on Congress. In a combination of prepared and off-the-cuff remarks, the Congresswoman explained that now is no time for advocates of health and research to rest, despite passage of a tax deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Rep. DeLauro voted against the New Year’s Day tax compromise primarily because it does nothing to avert deep cuts to discretionary funding to agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. She stated that the tax compromise actually puts increased pressure on spending for health and research by permanently removing certain options to increase revenue. Continue reading

Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Stem Cell Research

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a challenge (Sherley v. Sebelius) — to a lower court ruling that allows limited stem cell research to move forward — made by scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deishner. The two had argued that Congressional actions have forbidden such research, even on existing cell lines of embryonic tissue. However, the Obama Administration has authorized research utilizing existing cell lines developed from embryonic tissue in in vitro fertilization, taking the view that it does not involve the new destruction of embryos. In their petition to the Supreme Court, Sherley and Deishner claim that the government failed to address comments on the legality of such research during its implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order, thus rendering the resultant guidelines illegal. The Supreme Court denied the challenge without comment.

Statement by NIH Director Francis Collins

Fiscal Cliff Deal Leaves Research Cuts on the Horizon

On New Year’s day, the Senate and House passed legislation, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, to address the tax portion of the fiscal cliff and delay the across-the-board cuts (a.k.a. “sequester”) to federal agencies by two months.

Bush-era tax rates made permanent for 99%- The legislation permanently extends 2012 tax rates for annual income below $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.

Across-the-board cuts delayed- According to the White House, “the agreement saves $24 billion, half in revenue and half from spending cuts which are divided equally between defense and non-defense, in order to delay the sequester for two months. This will give Congress time to work on a balanced plan to end the sequester permanently through a combination of additional revenue and spending cuts in a balanced manner.” Continue reading