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Senate Panel Approves HHS Funding

September 23, 2011—The Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 21 approved its FY 2012 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill by a party-line vote of 16 to 14 following extended debate over funding to implement the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152). The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee had approved the bill a day earlier.

The bill provides $30.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a decrease of $190 million (0.6 percent) from the FY 2011 level.  The committee rejected, 16 to 14, an amendment by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would have restored the $190 million cut.  All Republicans voted for the amendment, and all Democrats opposed it.  The offset for the amendment was an across-the-board cut of all other programs in the bill.

Within the NIH total, the bill provides $582 million for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).  This includes $20 million for the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) at NIH, which activates its authorization.  According to a summary released by the committee, NCATS is “part of a broader restructuring at NIH that also includes the termination of the National Center for Research Resources.”

According to the committee report (S.Rept. 112-84), the bill provides $255.5 million for the Title VII health professions programs, a $17 million (6.2 percent) cut below the previous year, and maintains Title VIII nursing education programs at the FY 2011 level of $242.4 million. The Title VII cut results from elimination of the Health Careers Opportunity Program. The Title VII total includes a $25 million transfer to the public health and preventive medicine programs from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, $5 million more than was transferred in FY 2011. The increase is intended to support grants “to accredited residency programs to incorporate competency-based integrative medicine curricula in graduate medical education.” The bill continues funding for all other Title VII programs at the FY 2011 levels.

The committee also maintains funding for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program at the FY 2011 level of $268.4 million, despite the president’s FY 2012 budget proposal to eliminate funding for the program. During the subcommittee markup, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) thanked Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) for his efforts to continue funding for the program.

The bill freezes funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at the FY 2011 funding level of $372.1 million. Additionally, the committee transfers $12 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to AHRQ for clinical preventive services research ($5 million) and for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force ($7 million).

The bill also provides $3 million for the National Health Care Workforce Commission, established in the Affordable Care Act. Though the Government Accountability Office appointed members to the commission in Sept. 2010 [see Washington Highlights, Oct. 1, 2010], to date no funding has been provided for the commission to meet.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806