Senate Proposes Increased Funding for NIH and NIDCR

Earlier this week, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee voted to move its version of the fiscal year (FY)15 LHHS Appropriations bill forward to the full Appropriations committee. According to the summary and accompanying charts released by the subcommittee this legislation proposes $30.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $402.4 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The proposed funding level for NIDCR is an approximate $5.8 million increase from the FY14 and $5.3 million over the President’s FY15 budget request.

Unfortunately, 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. As a result, the legislative text and accompanying report language have not been released. Additionally, the House of Representatives LHHS Subcommittee has not set a date for consideration of their version of the FY15 LHHS bill.

In the upcoming weeks and months, AADR will continue advocate on behalf of dental, oral and craniofacial research to ensure increased funding is secured in the final FY15 Appropriation bill.


National Science Foundation: Funding Update

Recently the House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill by a 321-87 vote and the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill yesterday. The CJS bill proposes funding allocations for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.  For NSF specifically, the House allocated approximately $7.4 billion, a $232 million increase from FY2014 and $149 million above the President’s budget request. The Senate proposed $7.25 billion, which is $83 million above FY2014 and level with the President’s budget request.

The Senate bill includes report language commending the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for their work on open access to federal research and expects the majority of federal agencies to implement plans to increase public access to federally funded scientific research by early 2015. Additionally, both bills included report language calling on OSTP, in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and other agencies to coordinate and create a roadmap for medical imaging research.

During the next month the Senate FY15 CJS bill will move to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Following votes on this legislation, the House and Senate will resolve the differences between the two versions of the CJS bills.


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.