House members discussed President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding for medical research, substance use disorder support, and pandemic preparedness during a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) on March 28.
The hearing featured HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra as the sole witness, following similar testimony before the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee on March 24 [refer to Washington Highlights, March 24].
Members inquired about proposed funding for maternal health, gun violence prevention, the department’s oversight of the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund, substance misuse, cancer screening, and investments in mental and behavioral health research and treatment.
Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) highlighted what he characterized as shared priorities with the administration in his opening statement, including biodefense and pandemic preparedness as well as biomedical research. Specifically, he emphasized the impact of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic health diseases “that cut so many lives short, especially in rural America, as well as across the nation,” in his opening statement.
Full Committee and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) noted concern about the less than 2% proposed increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) base budget. She added that this “threatens the progress this committee has made through significant sustained investments in biomedical research. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health would receive an increase of $1 billion, a disproportionate increase in my view, compared to the small increase at NIH.”
Nearly 200 members of the House of Representatives joined forces in requesting the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee provide at least $51 billion for the NIH base budget in FY 2024, in a letter submitted on March 24. This funding recommendation is supported by the AAMC and nearly 400 members of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research.
Several members discussed future pandemic preparedness response efforts led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as supplying the Strategic National Stockpile. DeLauro noted, “We must be ready for any current and future crisis. We must end the cycle of complacency that leaves us scrambling when a crisis hits.” In addition to supporting the public health community’s $11.6 billion funding recommendation for CDC earlier in the month, on March 24, the AAMC joined invested partners in requesting increased funding in FY 2024 for data modernization efforts at the CDC, specifically $340 million for the Data Modernization Initiative and $100 for the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to more quickly and efficiently use data, modeling, and analytics to prepare for and respond to pandemics.
Becerra also provided testimony on the FY 2024 budget request before the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees during the week of March 27 [refer to related story]. The House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee has not yet scheduled additional hearings regarding the budget requests for specific HHS programs and agencies.