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  • Washington Highlights

    VA Budget Proposal Includes Increases for Research, Loan Repayment, and GME

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    President Obama Feb. 2 released his fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request, which includes funding increases for several programs of interest to academic medicine within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

    In a Feb. 2 statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., expressed appreciation that “the president’s proposal to increase medical research funding … for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research programs. This, along with the new focus on important advances such as precision medicine, is a welcome beginning to ensuring that medical research remains a national priority.”

    Breaking five years of relatively flat funding, the president’s budget requests $622 million for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, a $33 million (5.6 percent) increase over FY 2015.

    According to accompanying budget materials, the increase includes a $10.2 million strategic initiative to develop a “learning health care system” through “five interlocking research streams: measurement science, operations research, point of care research, provider behavior, and randomized program implementation.” The remainder of the increase is requested for a pay raise ($4.1 million), non-payroll inflation ($3.8 million), and biomedical research and development inflation ($15.1 million).

    In line with the president’s Precision Medicine Initiative [see related story], the administration highlights the VA’s Million Veterans Program (MVP) as a “groundbreaking genomic medicine program, in which VA seeks to collect genetic samples and general health information from one million Veterans in the next five years.”

    The VA also plans to obligate $6.6 million of the $5 billion provided by the Veterans Choice Act (P.L. 113-146) to increase payments under the VA Education Debt Reduction Program and $119 million to increase the number of graduate medical education (GME) residency positions at VA medical facilities by up to 1,500 positions over five years.