Continuing Resolutions Will Likely Take Spending Talks into 2018

Last week, Congress approved and the president signed H.J. Res 123, a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 22. The CR, which avoids a shutdown and keeps federal programs operating at current levels, modified the expiration date of the previous CR set to expire on December 8. All of the previous CR provisions carry forward through December 22. After this date, another funding measure – either another CR or a spending bill funding the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2018 – will be needed. Despite the two-week buffer, there is already an expectation that a second CR into January will need to be passed to give lawmakers more time to complete their work.

These funding measures have implications for research and come into play as Republicans and Democrats negotiate longer-term deals over government funding, which include raising the defense and non-defense budget caps and passing an omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2018 appropriations.

By way of background, at the beginning of the fiscal year, October 1, 2017, spending limits on military and domestic programs came into effect as a result of 2011’s Budget Control Act. Consequently, if Congress wants to increase funding for defense and non-defense programs, lawmakers first need to pass a budget deal to lift the caps and then pass a spending bill containing the actual appropriations for fiscal year 2018 (e.g., funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies). Importantly for the dental, oral and craniofacial research community, it is important to note that for the Senate’s proposed increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to be realized, Congress will need to make a deal to raise the caps.

Congressional negotiators are currently considering a two-year budget deal to do just that – potentially raising the caps by more than $200 billion. However, Republicans and Democrats are working under different priorities. Republicans are looking to increase the defense budget – initially seeking a deal that would raise defense by $54 billion and non-defense by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019 – and Democrats are seeking parity, proposing increasing defense and non-defense equally by $54 billion, a move that would raise the two-year cost above $200 billion.

In addition reaching consensus on top-line numbers and finding a solution for Democrats’ demand for parity, a number of challenges remain for the budget deal as negotiators look to it as a vehicle to pass other legislation, such as the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a third emergency supplemental for communities affected by this year’s natural disasters.

According to CQ Roll Call, a GOP aide speculates that a budget agreement will be announced December 18, just a few days before the December 22 deadline to pass another funding measure.

AADR will be closely monitoring these developments over the coming weeks given their implications for research funding. Under a CR, NIH will be paying out grants at a lower rate than they would under regular appropriations (see a previous NIH CR notice here). Therefore, it is critical that Congress pass regular appropriations through the end of the year to provide stability for medical research.

If you have questions, please contact AADR’s Assistant Director of Government Affairs Lindsey Horan or continue to check the AADR Government Affairs and Science Policy Blog for updates.

AADR Provides Input on Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research

In September, the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Request for Information to solicit input from scientists and advocacy and patient communities on the trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research. Specifically, ORWH was seeking feedback on three proposed cross-cutting themes and goals under consideration for the next iteration of the plan that is intended to promote allocation of NIH resources for conducting and support women’s health research across NIH Institutes and Centers.

For this reason, AADR wanted to stress to the ORWH that the cross-cutting themes and goals can and should be readily applied to oral and craniofacial health and disease research supported by NIH, and specifically by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and submitted a set of comments to this effect:

The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) appreciates the opportunity to provide input on the trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research. We commend the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) for putting forth the important cross-cutting themes in the Request for Information and believe they are an imperative step in ensuring that women’s health research is conducted and supported across NIH Institutes and Centers.

As such, we would note that the proposed themes and goals can and should be readily applied to oral and craniofacial health and disease research supported by NIH and specifically, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. In addition to the manifestations of sex-based differences in dental, oral and craniofacial diseases and conditions, which may be affected by hormonal changes, genetic variations and more, contextual factors and life experiences also play an important role in oral health – an integral component of overall health.

Additionally, as ORWH deliberates its approach to the science of women’s health, we would encourage ORWH to consider that, while the biologic implications of sex are both justified and important in basic or translational disease models, there is also opportunity for clinical investigators – particularly in the multi-dimensional approach to the science of women’s health – to highlight the socioeconomic and behavioral aspects of gender as well as biological sex. As noted by Ioannidou(1), “economic inequality and hardship for women have resulted in limited access to oral care. As a result, gender emerged as a complex socioeconomic and behavioral factor in influencing oral health and outcomes.” Expanding the strategic plan to encompass gender may lead to a greater understanding of the life-course and psychosocial dimensions sought after by ORWH as well as equip our system for better care by considering health disparities, gender bias and therapeutic interventions.

 

(1) Ioannidou, E.: The sex and gender intersection in chronic periodontitis. Frontiers in Public Health 2017 Aug 4;5:189.

AADR Showcases NIDCR-Funded Research at Second Annual Public Health Fair

For the second year, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) was a proud co-sponsor and exhibitor at the Coalition for Health Funding’s (CHF) Public Health Fair, an event aimed at educating members of Congress and their staff about the value and importance of public health, including federally-funded public health research and programs. Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) kicked off the event, stressing the importance of public health research in our society and sharing his belief that prevention efforts are the wisest way to use public health dollars.

  

During this event, held in the Rayburn House Office Building Foyer on November 8, organizations – ranging from professional associations to federal agencies – convened on Capitol Hill to demonstrate how they are collectively working to improve the health and well-being of the American people. Whether through promoting preventive care and community health initiatives, conducting surveillance to prevent and respond to disease, or collaborating with researchers to determine how to make health care safer and more effective for all, each of these groups has a role to play in our nation’s health.

This year, AADR and the Friends of National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial

The finished product of the 3-D printing technology displayed at the Public Health Fair.

Research (FNIDCR) were joined at our booth by Mr. Walter Zimbeck and Mr. Mark Kauf, two researchers from Technology Assessment & Transfer, Inc., a Maryland-based research and development company, who received an NIDCR grant to develop 3-D printing technology for the production of high performance ceramic dental crowns, which has the potential to lower material and processing costs as well as improve restoration aesthetics and performance.

In addition to a display of some ceramic dental crowns they had produced, Mr. Zimbeck and Kauf set up a 3-D printer at the AADR booth so attendees could see the printing technology in action. To learn how the technology works, check out CHF’s Facebook live video.

AADR was proud to be a part of this event and enjoyed learning about other organizations’ public health initiatives. For more insight into the Public Health Fair, view the Facebook live recaps here, and scroll through the day’s Twitter stream by searching the hashtag #PublicHealthFair.

To learn more about the Coalition for Health Funding, visit the CHF website. For more information about AADR’s advocacy and government affairs work, visit our website or contact Lindsey Horan at lhoran@aadr.org.

 

 

 

 

Congress Approves Short-Term Funding Bill Averting Govt. Shutdown

Yesterday, Congress approved a short term continuing resolution (CR) averting a government shutdown and funding the federal government through December 9, 2016 at 0.5% funding level lower than fiscal year 2016. Importantly, the CR also includes $1.1 billion supplemental funding to combat the Zika virus. Included in the $1.1 billion for Zika is $397 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.The Senate voted 72-26 and the House voted 342-85 in support of this legislation.

What is next? When Congress returns from the November elections a lot of unfinished business awaits them during the lame duck session. Congress must approve an appropriations bill that funds the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year after the current CR expires on December 9th. AADR is strongly urging Congress to adopt an appropriations bill that provides increased funding for NIH and NIDCR.

How can you help? Please take a moment and send an email to your member of Congress stressing the importance of approving an omnibus appropriations bill by clicking here to access our action alert.

FNIDCR Sign on Letter Demonstrates Robust Support for NIDCR Funding

Last week, the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (FNIDCR) sent a letter signed by 46 organizations, patient advocates and dental schools urging Congress to provide $430.5 million for NIDCR in the final fiscal year 2017 appropriation bill. The organizations noted that putting appropriations on autopilot via a long term continuing resolution beyond December 9th will slow down progress to finding cures for many diseases that plague our nation.  This letter was also distributed by the AADR Government Affairs Committee and FNIDCR transition team during their in person meetings with members of Congress on September 26th.

 

Dental Community Urges Congress to Support Funding for Oral Health Programs

This month, the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) sent  letters to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittees urging them to provide modest programmatic increases to allow more Americans to have access to better oral health.  The letter included a chart of funding priorities for oral health research and programs, including a request for Congress to provide $430.5 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in the final appropriation bill for fiscal year 2017. These organizations also noted the significant and detrimental impact a six month or year long continuing resolution would have on these programs and the populations they serve. ADA, AAPD, ADEA and AADR therefore urged Congress to approve an omnibus appropriation bill after the election.

Budget Update

This week Congress approved their budget resolutions by a 52-46 vote in the Senate and a 228-199 vote in the House. The budget resolutions essentially are a blueprint laying out Congressional priorities for the next year. The House and Senate will now develop a compromise agreement or conference report in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, both bills keep in place the sequester level caps on non-defense discretionary spending. Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). By adhering to the austere spending caps it will be virtually impossible for Congress to provide meaningful increases in funding for NIH in the upcoming fiscal year.

There may be a small glimmer of hope however, according to CQHealthbeat, “Some in the GOP see the House and Senate budgets as an opening bid in a likely negotiation with the White House later this year. Such talks would look for broader changes in the spending caps that many lawmakers argue should be raised both for defense and domestic programs.” AADR will continue to advocate on behalf of our members urging Congress to undo sequestration, raise the caps on non-defense discretionary spending and reinvest in biomedical research.

What is next? After Congress votes on the budget resolution conference report, the appropriations committees receive their funding allocations and will begin their work drafting appropriations bills. Historically, Congress will release the text of those bills in early summer.

AADR Issues Statement about House FY16 Budget Resolution

House FY16 Budget Resolution: Bad for Biomedical Research, Unhealthy for Americans

The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) is deeply disappointed with the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Budget Resolution adopted today by the House Budget Committee. By adhering to austere spending caps in the short term, this spending blueprint will further slow progress on improving the health and well-being of all Americans as well as effectively stifle any opportunities to develop personalized medicine approaches to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health, reduce oral health inequalities, or ensure a robust and diverse pipeline of dental, oral, and craniofacial researchers.

By cutting nondefense discretionary spending an additional $759 billion from FY2017 through FY2025, this budget plan all but assures that the US will continue to lose ground as the world leader in research and development, that its economic growth will be hampered and that American families will lose their best hope for treating and curing debilitating diseases.

Non-defense discretionary spending funds important components of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Many members of Congress have voiced their support for biomedical research, but unless Congress provides a sufficient and reliable investment for NIH, American’s health will suffer.

Over the past several years, funding for NIDCR has dropped 25 percent when adjusted for inflation. This decline in purchasing power is especially troubling because past achievements in oral health during the last half century are in large part the fruits of research supported by NIDCR. Any hope of restoring that momentum would be lost under this budget resolution.

“We hope lawmakers will reject this resolution and work together to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not rely on additional cuts to non-defense discretionary programs,” said AADR President Paul Krebsbach from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

AADR Supports the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act

Today, the American Association for Dental Research sent a letter in support of the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act (S. 2658).  Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, this legislation creates a mechanism by which predictable, increased and sustainable funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may be possible. AADR applauds this bill as an innovative approach to address the declining purchasing power of NIH and to prevent the further erosion of promising research.

However, since the funding levels dictated are still too low for other agencies and oral health programs AADR also strongly urges Congress to develop a long-term and permanent solution to replace sequestration for all non-defense discretionary spending.

AADR stands ready to work with the broader scientific community and Sen. Harkin to enact this legislation in the upcoming months.

 

Senate Includes Dental Caries Report Language

Today, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee released the report accompanying the FY15 Senate LHHS Bill. The subcommittee proposes funding levels of $30.5 billion for NIH and $402.4 million for NIDCR. Additionally, on page 97 the subcommittee included report language about dental caries.

Dental Caries.—The Committee recognizes that dental caries remain the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, resulting in a significant economic and health burden to the American people. Although caries has significantly decreased for most Americans over the past 4 decades, disparities remain among some population groups and this downward trend has recently reversed for young children. The Committee is concerned about conflicting information in the media regarding the benefits of community fluoridation and urges NIDCR to enhance efforts to communicate sound science related to dental caries and their prevention.”

At this time it is unclear when or if the full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider this legislation due to the continued contentious political climate. According to media reports Congress will most likely approve a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government at fiscal year 2014 levels through the November elections.

AADR will provide a more detailed analysis of the Senate LHHS bill and report during the next week. If you have any questions please contact Carolyn Mullen cmullen@aadr.org