NIH Releases Fact Sheet Outlining Impacts of Sequestration

On Monday, the NIH released a fact sheet outlining the impact of the sequestration on its operations and plans for FY2013.  The sequester, initiated on March 1, 2013, requires that the NIH slash its FY2013 budget by either 5% or $1.55 billion.  These budgetary changes will be applied across all 27 Institutes and Centers of the NIH, significantly affecting every aspect of medical research, including that of the NIDCR.

The major numbers projected to change due to the sequester, outlined by the fact sheet, are staggering.  Specifically, the NIH estimates that there will be approximately 700 fewer competitive research project grants awarded, taking application funding rates down to one in six submissions.  There will also be a significant defunding of grants for existing noncompeting research projects, with an NIH average decrease by 4.7%.  Similarly, recipients of the National Research Service Award will see stagnation in their stipends for the budgetary year, further de-incentivizing proposals. Continue reading

FY14 Budget Resolution Passes Senate Along with Moran NIH Amendment

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), a member of the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, introduced an amendment to Senator Murray’s budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2014, to increase NIH funding by $1.4 billion.  Senator Moran stated that, adjusted for inflation, the NIH budget in Fiscal Year 2012 was $3.6 billion less than Fiscal Year 2003, when NIH funding was at its highest. The graph below shows that NIH funding in constant dollars, i.e. after adjusting for inflation, has constantly decreased over the years. Note that this graph does not account for the sequestration cuts that cost the NIH more than $1.6 billion or -5.1% over the next six months. Voting on the budget resolution began over the weekend. The budget resolution and Senator Moran’s amendment passed. However, given that the Senate budget resolution is dramatically different from what was passed by the House, additional pressure will be needed to preserve the content of the Moran amendment in the House.


House Budget Would Deal Another Severe Blow to NIH in FY14 and Beyond

House of Representatives Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-WI), released a 10-year spending plan on Tuesday. The plan claims to balance the federal budget within the next 10 years, through deep cuts of roughly $4.6 trillion, which is more than the entire federal budget for FY 2012. The plan imposes extreme cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, which include line-items such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Head Start, education, and air traffic control. These cuts will take place by imposing a 414-billion-dollar cap on non-defense discretionary spending for FY 2014, which starts on October 1st. To put this into perspective, this cap means that about $167 billion will be cut from these programs in FY 2014, accounting for the sequester cuts that took effect on March 1st. While the sequester cuts have dealt a devastating 5.1% cut to NIH funding for the remainder of this year, the House plan could mean more than a 10% cut to the NIH budget in FY 2014. The graph on the right shows the deep cuts to NIH for FY 2013 after the sequester, and the cuts that will take place for FY 2014 if Rep. Ryan’s budget is adopted.

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

Revisiting the Origins of Budget Sequestration

President Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011

With a sequester of the federal budget now a reality, some are asking: “How did we get here?” Neither the White House nor Congress are accepting attribution for the idea.

Budget sequestration stems back to the US debt-ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011. At the time, there was a fierce debate over the ability of the federal government to borrow additional money to pay its bills. The term “debt ceiling” refers to the government’s legal borrowing limit. At the time, the debt limit of 14.29 trillion dollars had been reached. The government faced an August 3rd, 2011 default on its obligations, if it not allowed to borrow additional capital. With just days to spare, Democrats and Republicans reached a deal known as the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The legislation raised the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts to reduce the deficit. The BCA put in place spending cuts for a period of ten years (2012-2021), for a total of 2.4 trillion dollars; 1.5 trillion dollars of the total was to come from discretionary spending, half of which was of the non-defense discretionary (NDD) category. As a result, NDD spending was set on a course to fall to its lowest level on record, as a share of GDP, with data going back to 1962.  Continue reading

Oral Health Groups Join in Budget Message to Congress

AADR joined the American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association in a letter to Congress that outlined the oral health impacts of the impending budget sequester of federal agencies and programs. The letter was directed specifically to members of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus, appropriators, and senior leadership in the House and Senate.

The groups highlighted anticipated problems such as a diminished ability to attract much needed dental specialists to the Indian Health Service if funding is dramatically reduced, decreased ability of dental schools to provide safety-net services to the public as is commonly done, and a loss of breakthroughs leading to enhanced oral and systemic health stemming from reduced grants from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Full ADA-ADEA-AADR Letter to Congress

NIH Outlines Sequestration Implementation

The NIH has issued a notice (NOT-OD-13-043) outlining its plan for implementation of the budget sequester that will be set into motion this Friday. Directors of Institutes and Centers will have some latitude in achieving their budget reduction targets. However, across-the-board, it can be expected that: (1.) the final FY13 funding levels of non-competing continuation grants will be reduced, and (2.) fewer competing awards will be made. Given that the federal government is currently operating with temporary funds, also known as a continuing resolution, non-competing continuation awards for FY13 will continue to be funded at a reduced level of 90% (of the value indicated on the most recent Notice of Award) until final appropriations for the year are enacted. As sequestration begins to be implemented, program officers will contact current grantees. NIDCR is expected to lose $21 million in FY13 alone if sequestration is fully implemented.

NIH Notice NOT-OD-13-043

White House Outlines State Impacts from Sequestration

For many lawmakers, and much of the general public, the across-the-board budget cuts that will be set into motion this Friday (see Budget Control Act of 2011, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) are somewhat of an abstract concept. In an effort to bring increased attention and pressure to budget sequestration, the White House has released state-level programmatic impact statements. The fact sheets provide only a sample of the reductions ahead. However, cuts to research are included in the Nationwide Impacts section of each fact sheet.

White House Fact Sheets on Sequestration Impact (By State)


  • NIH research – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be forced to delay or halt vital scientific projects and make hundreds of fewer research awards. Since each research award supports up to seven research positions, several thousand personnel could lose their jobs. Many projects would be difficult to pursue at reduced levels and would need to be cancelled, putting prior year investments at risk. These cuts would delay progress on the prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delay development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans.
  • NSF research – The National Science Foundation (NSF) would issue nearly 1,000 fewer research grants and awards, impacting an estimated 12,000 scientists and students and curtailing critical scientific research.

AADR at the White House for President’s Remarks on Sequestration

President Obama delivers latest plea for a budget deal

Today, AADR joined other groups — representing communities impacted by the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take place next Friday — at the White House to hear from the President on the imminent budget crisis. President Obama, with first-responders standing close behind, listed some of the many detrimental consequences of a sequester of the budget. He stated that the scheduled cuts would eviscerate federal programs in education and medical research, as well as result in lost jobs for emergency responders, and decrease military readiness. The President called on Congress to — at a minimum — pass a smaller package of spending reductions and tax reforms, which would delay the impact of sequestration and allow for the development of an alternative.

While the White House event did not signal any positive developments in the budget standoff, it did refocus the spotlight on the March 1st cuts, which many in Washington have come to view as inevitable. It is increasingly likely that Congress will fail to develop an alternative to sequestration by March 1st, setting the cuts into motion and possibly increasing the will of lawmakers to forge a compromise as the public begins to pay closer attention.