The AAMC joined 259 patient, medical, scientific, and academic organizations on a Feb. 7 community letter urging President Trump and congressional leadership to complete a fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending package that includes $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The letter, coordinated by the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, acknowledges recent efforts by lawmakers to help NIH regain some of its lost purchasing power, but points out, “The budget ambiguity resulting from the current continuing resolution leaves the agency and researchers in limbo.” The letter adds “the prospect of a flat or reduced final budget not only would delay progress, but also could serve to discourage the next generation of researchers from careers in science.”
In addition to the letter, the groups delivered an accompanying fact sheet outlining the health and economic benefits of the federal investment in NIH. The fact sheet also points to public opinion data demonstrating the public’s support for medical research. For example, according to a June 2016 poll, nearly two-thirds of registered voters in 12 battleground states noted that support for medical discoveries should be a priority for the president in his first 100 days in office, and 78 percent listed it as a priority for Congress.
In December, Congress opted to defer final funding decisions until the 115th Congress [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 9, 2016], leaving most federal programs, including NIH, to operate under a continuing resolution (CR). AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, noted in December that prior to the CR, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees “approved significant increases in the base NIH budget with strong bipartisan measures.” He continued to express concern, adding, “When the budget process stalls, it creates avoidable uncertainty that can delay scientific progress.” The current CR is scheduled to expire April 28.
The AAMC convenes the Ad Hoc Group, which is a coalition of patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations, and industry, dedicated to enhancing the federal investment in biomedical, behavioral, social, and population-based research supported by NIH.