AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued the following statement on the passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bill by the House Appropriations Committee, which includes new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other health care agencies and programs:
“The AAMC is pleased to see the House Appropriations Committee prioritizing programs that will enable the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals to continue to care for and improve the health of all during these unprecedented and challenging times.
The AAMC’s member institutions continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and care for patients across our country, while also conducting cutting-edge research on testing, treatments, and a potential vaccine to combat the coronavirus. Simultaneously, our members continue their efforts to combat other chronic illnesses while looking ahead to prepare for future public health threats. The Committee’s bill would make a number of important investments to support this work even as the coronavirus crisis continues.
We are grateful that the spending bill recognizes the role of every NIH institute and center in advancing a diverse range of biomedical research and scientific discovery. The AAMC also appreciates the flexibility the bill provides for NIH to use emergency funding to offset costs related to resuming critical, non-COVID research that was suspended during the pandemic. We hope to continue working with the Committee to secure essential legislation with dedicated, robust emergency relief to restore research to pre-pandemic levels and, additionally, to ensure support for new research through sustained, meaningful growth for NIH in the final FY21 spending bill. Reliable ongoing growth in the NIH’s base budget is necessary to support new foundational and disease-specific research that will advance treatments for diseases and conditions that affect individuals and families everywhere—including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, and countless others—and to maintain a strong research workforce pipeline.
The AAMC greatly appreciates the bill’s strong commitment to public health, specifically the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and preparedness programs under the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. This additional federal support is a good step toward reversing years of chronic underfunding that have hindered our nation’s efforts to prepare adequately for pandemics, such as COVID-19. We also applaud the Committee for continuing and strengthening last year’s unprecedented investment in research on firearm safety.
Finally, the AAMC welcomes the Committee’s renewed commitment to the Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) workforce development programs, which will help ensure that our nation has a robust health care workforce positioned to continue to fight COVID-19 and other existing and future public health crises. To that end, we urge the full House to also increase funding for the HRSA diversity pipeline programs, such as the Health Careers Opportunity Program and Centers of Excellence. Increased investments in these and other similar programs will help foster a diverse and culturally competent health care workforce that will support access to health care for all, both now and in the future.
We thank the Committee for championing these priorities, which aim to safeguard the health and well-being of our nation. To secure final funding levels that invest fully in these crucial programs, we urge Congress and the administration to ensure that the impractical pre-pandemic discretionary spending caps do not undermine the FY21 appropriations process and that complementary emergency legislation supporting our nation’s health security is enacted without delay.”