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Second Opinion

Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Stopgap Defers Spending Decisions Until April 28

December 9, 2016—The House Dec. 8 passed, 326-96, a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend funding for most federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other health programs, at a rate of operations that is 0.1901 percent below fiscal year (FY) 2016 levels until April 28, 2017. The Senate must approve, and the president must sign, the stopgap before the current CR expires Dec. 9, to avoid a government shutdown.  

At press time, Senate leaders were continuing to work towards an agreement with Senate Democrats, who have expressed concerns that the bill excludes a provision permanently addressing retired coal miners’ retirement benefits.

Upon House passage of the measure, AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, expressed disappointment “that Congress has opted to defer completion of annual spending bills yet again, leaving final funding for medical research in limbo.”

Noting that both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees “approved significant increases in the base NIH budget with strong bipartisan margins” this summer [see Washington Highlights, June 10], Dr. Kirch also observed that “researchers and the patients who rely on this important work will have to wait at least seven months into the fiscal year before they know whether this critical increased investment will materialize.” He continued by noting, “When the budget process stalls, it creates avoidable uncertainty that can delay scientific progress.”

In addition to continuing funding for the base NIH budget, the CR (H.R. 2028) enables NIH to access to the full $352 million in funding available to NIH in FY 2017 through the Innovation Account established in the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) (see related story). In FY 2017, the Account provides $40 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $10 million for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, $300 million for Cancer Moonshot, and $2 million for clinical regenerative medicine research.

The CR also provides funds offered through the Cures Act for state grants to address the opioid crisis ($500 million) and for initiatives at the Food and Drug Administration ($20 million) in FY 2017.

The White House expressed concern over a CR, noting that “the ideal would be for them to pass a budget through the remainder of the fiscal year.” However, President Obama is expected to sign the stopgap funding bill.

Contact:

Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525
Email: trasouli@aamc.org

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