AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, issued the following statement on the fiscal year (FY) 2022 omnibus legislation. If enacted, the legislation would provide increases in funding for several key agencies and programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), among other provisions:
“The AAMC supports the bipartisan, bicameral efforts of congressional negotiators to provide crucial resources for programs that promote the health of patients, communities, and the nation and to preserve gains in telehealth that have improved access to care for people nationwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic is only the latest example of the critical role the NIH, CDC, and other federal health and research agencies play – together with medical schools, teaching hospitals, and their scientists and physician faculty – to keep people healthy and fight disease and disability. The increased funding in the omnibus spending bill is vital to strengthening the nation’s health and research infrastructure, better preparing for future public health threats, and improving the health of people throughout the country.
We are grateful that the bill includes an increase in the NIH base budget for the seventh straight year. Ongoing robust support for NIH-funded research directly benefits patients and families byenabling scientists at academic medical centers and other research institutions nationwide to advance new and betterdiagnostics, preventive interventions, treatments, and cures. We appreciate that the funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) supplements the core investment in NIH, and we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers and the administration as the new entity is established.
Additionally, the AAMC applauds the bill’s commitment to maternal health, ongoing prevention efforts through CDC – including firearm injury and mortality prevention research – and key preparedness programs at the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. As the pandemic continues to evolve, it will be essential to ensure that HHS has the targeted resources it needs to address Covid-19, in addition to the foundational investments in the annual spending bills.
We commend appropriators for including increases for the HRSA Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program, Title VII health professions, and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs, especially for the diversity pathway programs. While more needs to be done, the increased funding levels are an important step in developing a strong, diverse, and culturally competent health workforce that will address health inequities, particularly in rural, marginalized, and other underserved communities nationwide.
We are pleased that the bill would extend critical telehealth waivers and flexibilities that have been crucial to patients’ ability to maintain access to health care services during the current public health emergency. Temporarily extending these telehealth waivers at the end of the public health emergency will provide policymakers with time to partner with stakeholders to make telehealth access permanent for patients, families, and communities, especially those in rural, urban, and other underserved areas.
Lastly, we appreciate that the bill would maintain access to the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which benefits patients and communities served by safety net institutions, by protecting program eligibility of covered entities during the current public health emergency.
We urge Congress to pass this bill without delay to help improve the health of people everywhere.”