New 2017 budget bill increases NIH, CDC funding

2017 05 02 16 22 44 509 Gov Money 400

A new U.S. government budget bill proposes increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding includes millions of dollars for efforts that prevent and treat opioid abuse.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations released the bill on May 1. The bill received bipartisan praise and, if passed, would fund the government through September 30, the end of fiscal year 2017.

"This package of the remaining Appropriations bills is the result of over a year's worth of careful and dedicated efforts to closely examine federal programs to make the best possible use of every tax dollar," stated Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in a press release. "This legislation will fund critical federal government activities, including our national defense, and enact responsible funding decisions to target U.S. investments where they are needed the most."

Billions more for HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which houses the NIH, CDC, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), would receive one of the largest increases in funding. The NIH houses the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which provided $1.2 billion in awards to U.S. dental schools between 2005 and 2014.

“I urge its quick approval by the Congress and the White House.”
— Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee

The bill allocates $74 billion to the department, almost $4 billion more than the budget set by the administration of former President Barack Obama. The increase to HHS would help fund the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan effort to curb the opioid epidemic, modify the drug approval process, reform mental health care, and boost biomedical research. The act also pushes for the "moonshot" to cure cancer.

Specifically, the NIH would receive $34 billion under the new budget, $2 billion more than the organization received in 2016. Antibiotic and Alzheimer's disease research are just two areas that would see funding increased.

The budget bill would also provide millions to combat prescription drug abuse at the CDC and SAMSA. The budget allocates $112 million to the CDC for prescription drug abuse prevention efforts and $150 million to SAMSA for opioid and heroin use treatment and prevention.

Tension between the White House and Congress

The new budget bill differs significantly from President Donald Trump's 2018 budget blueprint, which calls for $15 billion in cuts from HHS to help offset increases in defense spending. The 2018 blueprint has been criticized by the American Association for Dental Research for cuts to NIH funding in particular.

Congress and the White House have through May 5 to pass the bill and avoid a government shutdown. While the bill is expected to pass, it only funds the government until the 2018 fiscal year begins on October 1.

"It is time that we complete this essential work," Frelinghuysen stated. "It is a solid bill that reflects our common values and that will help move our nation forward, and I urge its quick approval by the Congress and the White House."

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