Yesterday, oral health scientists and students participated in the 2013 AADR-ADEA Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Members of the associations joined to conduct 84 meetings in House and Senate offices, covering more than 20 states in the process. The participants carried a message of the need to replace the March 1st budget sequestration order and increase investments in biomedical research. More specifically, the group called on Members of Congress to support a Fiscal Year 2014 NIH appropriation of $32 billion. In recent weeks, the FY14 funding recommendation for NIH has been promoted by many health and research associations, as well as drawn bipartisan support in Congress. However, the figure remains a reach in the current budget environment.
During a morning briefing session that preceded Congressional visits, Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations expressed support for the important work carried out with federal investments in NIH. He also communicated a desire to see better prioritization of NIH grant investments, and told that group the he viewed the $32 billion figure as slightly out of reach in the coming year. Nonetheless, his presence and the totality of remarks given demonstrated a considerable interest in oral health and research.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) provided closing remarks during the morning session. He explained the need for a “Grand Bargain” on the budget, one that would get the deficit under control while making important investments in areas that grow the economy and are good for the public, such as biomedical research.
Initial reports from Advocacy Day participants indicated considerable support on both sides of the aisle for oral health research and education. Participants were encouraged to keep up their advocacy efforts, so that oral health remains a part of the budget dialogue in the months ahead.