AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement regarding passage of an omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 by the House of Representatives, which includes an additional $3 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
“The bipartisan omnibus spending bill passed by the House today is a milestone for all Americans, especially those who are awaiting cures. Through the thoughtful, inspired investments in critical federal health and science agencies, the package will help support medical schools and teaching hospitals working every day to turn patients’ hopes into better health.
In particular, the AAMC applauds lawmakers for their tremendous commitment to medical research through the National Institutes of Health, including a recognition of the vital infrastructure and operating costs associated with cutting-edge science. Robust, sustained funding for NIH brings us ever-closer to treatments and diagnostics for life-threatening and chronic diseases. Building on the investments in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the additional $3 billion in funding this year will enable meaningful growth for the full spectrum of science across the agency, while also advancing progress toward some of the nation’s most pressing health challenges, such as the opioid epidemic. The new knowledge that results from the broad commitment to NIH-supported labs today may be the door that leads down a yet unknown path to discovery tomorrow.
The omnibus’ investment in NIH complements support for other federal research agencies. Increased funding for Medical and Prosthetic Research will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue its support of veteran-centered research that leads to life-improving advancements and treatments, many of which also can be applied to the broader population. Medical schools and teaching hospitals look forward to building upon our over 70-year partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to support this vital research. Similarly, increased funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will help integrate the products of new medical research into practice—an essential component to optimizing the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of the nation’s health care delivery system.
In addition, the AAMC praises the increases in funding for health workforce programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration, including Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education, the Title VII and Title VIII workforce development and diversity pipeline programs, and the National Health Service Corps. After years of chronic underfunding, the renewed commitment to these programs will aid in improving access to care for vulnerable patients and those in underserved communities by helping to shape the workforce in the areas of greatest need.
We thank the authors of this package, and in particular House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs Tom Cole and Roy Blunt and Ranking Members Rosa DeLauro and Patty Murray, for their deft hand in prioritizing budget growth for public health and research programs that bolster our nation’s health security. The AAMC congratulates the House for approving the omnibus and urges the Senate to follow suit without delay.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.