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.

Mind the Tap Campaign: Attacks on HHS Evaluation Tap Have Consequences

This week the Friends of the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Friends of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) launched a campaign to educate the public and Congress about an obscure budget mechanism known as the evaluation tap. Established in 1970, the evaluation tap is a unique budget transfer that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use or “tap” a portion of appropriations from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Congress specifies the amount of the tap in the annual appropriations bills, which in recent years is 2.5 percent of program appropriations. As a result, the budget authority appropriated to the agencies specified in the annual appropriations bills overstates the amount of money available for the agencies to spend. For example, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research received  $398.6 million, but after the evaluation tap and other transfers were administered the final funding level was $397.1 million in fiscal year 2014.

Importantly, the tap is used to support, in full or part, more than a dozen critical public health and health research functions such as the Agency for Health Research and Quality and half of the budget for the National Center for Health Statistics.  Therefore, without the evaluation tap, many critical health functions will be significantly undermined, or cease to exist.

According to Academy Health, “In the upcoming months, policymakers may look to eliminate or reduce the evaluation tap as a way to ‘increase’ funding for contributing health agencies while complying with austere spending caps. However, such action is not without consequences.” If the tap is eliminated or reduced without an alternative funding mechanism, this will have significant consequences for all of the agencies and programs funded by the tap.

To learn more about the evaluation tap, click here to read a one page document created by the Friends of AHRQ and the Friends of NCHS.

 

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
    Program.
  • 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.

 

Student Researchers Call for Federal Science Funding

On June 1st, the organization with over 10,000 graduate students known as Stand With Science (SWS) published an op-ed in The Journal of Science Policy & Governance, highlighting the need student engagement and advocacy for the protection of science funding.  Following an explanation of the sequester and its impact to the R&D industry as a whole, SWS discusses funding cuts that impact the student community:  “We as graduate students must be concerned about cuts to all science funding, as all cuts to science are cuts to our future livelihoods as much as they are cuts to our nation’s competitiveness.” They follow with a subsequent call to action to the research community as a whole:  “We believe the roll of the scientist should not be limited to the laboratory, and that [we] have a responsibility to contribute to important policy debates concerning science and science funding.”

See the article here.

New Federal Funding Opportunities & Notices (NIH, AHRQ)

HHS components have recently released several funding opportunities and notices of interest. Details follow…

Request for Information (RFI): Identifying Organizations with the Appropriate Expertise to Participate in a Mobile Health (mHealth) Collaborative Public-Private Partnership

Notice Number: NOT-OD-12-151

Key Dates
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Response Date:  October 5, 2012
Issued by:
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) – NIH

Purpose:
This request for information (RFI) seeks to identify organizations with the appropriate expertise to serve as managing partner and/or participants for the “mHealth Public-Private Partnership” (mHealth PPP) with the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Continue reading

Senate Subcommittee Advances Funding for NIH

Yesterday, the Senate Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education advanced a Fiscal Year 2013 spending bill that would provide NIH a 0.33% or $100 million increase over the FY12 level. Continue reading

Agencies Provide Details on FY13 Budget Proposal

On Monday, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. As the week progressed, federal agency officials began to release details of the proposal, which is drawing criticism from many organizations in the health and research communities. The President’s budget proproses to freeze funding for NIH at the FY12 level of $30.7 billion. In a budget briefing on Wednesday (2/15), NIH Director Frances Collins stated that despite the freeze in funding, the President’s budget proposal would allow for a 7% increase in FY13 (over FY12) in new and competing research grants. Dr. Collins stated that the increase is made possible by increased turnover in grants, largely do to the fact that “science is moving more quickly” than has traditionally been the case. The decrease in the duration of grants coupled with a 1% FY13 reduction to noncompeting grants was mentioned as the primary drivers of the proposed increase in new and competing grants. Dr. Collins acknowledged that, when adjusted for inflation, purchasing power at NIH has been in decline since 2003.

Some items of note from the NIH FY13 Budget Proposal:

  • The NIDCR budget is slated for a $2 million decrease to $408 million.
  • Funds are sought from the Public Health Prevention Fund (part of the Affordable Care Act) to make a significant increase in Alzheimer’s research.
  • The ratio of funding between basic and applied research (54% basic, 46% applied) remains constant -as has been the case for several years.
  • The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) would receive an 11% increase to $639 million, which includes significant funding ($50 million) for the Cures Acceleration Network.

Other noteworthy budget information:

  • The overall Health and Human Services budget request is 8.5% lower than last year.
  • Oral health funding within CDC, Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, is essentially the same after a $9,000 increase to $14.653 million.
  • The request for the National Science Foundation is up 5% to $7.373 billion.
  • The request for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is up by roughly 1% to $408.8 million. However, the proposal cuts investigator-initiated researcg grants by more than 31%,  and comparative effectiveness research grants by 41%.

The President’s Budget Request marks the beginning of the budget process on the Hill. It is clear that the FY13 appropriations process is off to a rocky start for health and much of the research community.

FY12 Budget Finalized, NIH Up Slightly and NCATS OK’d

In a demonstration of “better late than never,” the House and Senate joined late last week to approve Fiscal Year 2012 spending for the nine appropriations bills that remained. The end of the FY12 appropriations process came roughly 11 weeks late, as the fiscal year began on October 1st. However, some are commending Congress for passage of all of its spending bills in mid-December, since in recent years the annual appropriations process lasted several months -well into the next calendar year. President Obama is expected to sign the package into law by December 23rd -when temporary spending expires.

Provisions of Note in Final FY12 “Omnibus/Megabus” Spending Bill:

[*Note: The Labor-HHS-Education section of the omnibus FY12 spending bill contains a 0.189% across-the-board (ATB) reduction]

National Institutes of Health– Provided $30.7 billion or $299 million (approximately 1%) above FY11. [$30.6 billion after ATB reduction]

NIH is strongly urged to ensure its policies continue to support a robust extramural community and make certain sufficient research resources are available to the more than 300,000 NIH-supported scientists at over 3,100 institutions across the country. The conferees affirm the critical importance of new and competing research project grants (RPGs) to the mission of NIH and are concerned that in the past few years, NIH has failed to support the number of new, competing RPGs that it estimated would be awarded in its annual congressional budget justifications. The conferees expect NIH to evaluate its new grant-estimating methodology to improve its accuracy and support as many scientifically meritorious new and competing RPGs as possible, at a reasonable award level, with the funding provided in this Act.

In recent years, extramural research has accounted for nearly 90 percent of NIH’s budget. The conferees strongly urge NIH to maintain at least that level in fiscal year 2012. NIH should also establish safeguards to ensure the percentage of funds used to support basic research across NIH is maintained.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research- $411.5 million or $1.9 million (0.46%) above FY11. [$410.7 million after ATB reduction]

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)- $576.5 million. [$575.4 million after ATB reduction]

The conference agreement includes language to eliminate the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and create the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

NCATS will study steps in the therapeutics development and implementation process, consult with experts in academia and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to identify bottlenecks in the processes that are amenable to re-engineering, and develop new technologies and innovative methods for streamlining the processes. In order to evaluate these innovations and new approaches, NCATS will undertake targeted therapeutics development and implementation projects. In all of these efforts, the conferees expect that NCATS will complement, not compete with, the efforts of the private sector.

While the conferees welcome the creation of NCATS, they were disappointed by the way the administration requested it. The President’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 included a vague description of NCATS but did not formally request funding for the restructuring or provide any details about which components of NIH would be consolidated into the new Center. The failure to do so caused unnecessary uncertainty about the proposal and contributed to the impression that it was being rushed. The conferees are also aware of concerns that the NIH process for evaluating the merits of the NCATS reorganization did not comply with the NIH Reform Act of 2006 with respect to the role of the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB).

Lessons learned with NCATS should guide NIH as it considers another proposed restructuring, one that would involve consolidating NIDA, NIAAA and components of other Institutes and Centers (ICs) into a new Institute devoted to research on substance use, abuse and addiction. The conferees understand that NIH plans to adopt a more deliberate approach in evaluating the need for this Institute. The conferees strongly recommend that this approach should include full consideration by the SMRB and that if the administration ultimately decides to seek such a restructuring, it should provide sufficient details in a formal budget request to Congress.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oral Health- $14.7 million or $276,000 (1.8%) less than FY11. [$14.67 million after ATB reduction]

The conferees are pleased to learn that CDC has decided to retain the Division of Oral Health. This action is supported by a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled “Advancing Oral Health in America” that recommends oral health be given a high priority within HHS. This decision will allow CDC to focus on the prevention and elimination of oral disease, support state oral health infrastructure programs, and improve the coordination of oral health activities with other chronic disease prevention activities.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality- $369 million or $3 million (0.8%) below FY11. [$368 million after ATB reduction]