The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), which includes the AAMC, sent a June 21 letter to House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) urging adoption of the Senate-passed $675 million for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical and Prosthetic Research. Members of the conference committee for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act, 2017 finalized the conference agreement (H. Rept. 114-129) on June 23, and provided the Senate-recommended level of $675 million.
The letter notes, “While this amount falls short of the $740 million recommended by FOVA, it will help offset the reprioritization of designated VA research areas caused by chronic underfunding and new budget stressors.” It goes on to outline the numerous research priorities identified by the House Appropriations Committee despite the proposed cuts to similar designated research areas under the administration’s reprioritization to fund the Million Veteran Program (MVP).
The House and Senate appropriations committees each approved versions of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 MilCon-VA spending bills in April, sending the bills to a conference committee to resolve the differences [see Washington Highlights, April 15]. The Senate bill provides $675 million for VA research, a $44 million (7 percent) increase over FY 2016, exceeding the House and president’s budget recommendations of $663 million. For the first time, the administration proposed dedicating $65 million of VA research funding to MVP in support of the president's Precision Medicine Initiative. Without a corresponding increase in funding, the VA plans to reprioritize program spending, including a decrease in investigator-riven projects.
AAMC is a member of the FOVA executive committee.