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Blunt-led Bill Includes Fourth Consecutive Increase for Life-Saving, Cost-Saving NIH Research

September 13, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has received $39.1 billion in the fiscal year 2019 Labor/HHS conference report, a $2 billion increase over last year’s level. The conference report, which reconciles the House Committee-reported and Senate-passed versions of the Labor/HHS funding bill, is now ready for a vote in both chambers, which would then send the bill to the president’s desk.

“This agreement continues a pattern of significant, sustained investments in medical research that will benefit every American,” said Blunt. “NIH research gives hope to millions of people suffering from conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to cystic fibrosis. It is also key to lowering health care costs over the long term, as new medical breakthroughs make it possible to reduce the incidence of disease or eradicate many of them entirely, shorten hospital stays, and diminish the use of invasive surgery. That’s why I’m committed to making sure the best medical professionals in the country have the support they need to develop life-saving, cost-saving treatments or cures.”

Blunt has secured four consecutive funding increases for NIH, bringing the four-year total increase to $9 billion, or 30 percent, under Blunt’s subcommittee chairmanship. The influx in funding over the last four years has restored more than half of the purchasing power NIH lost since its peak in fiscal year 2003. This year’s increase is estimated to support over 11,400 new grants and will continue to increase NIH’s purchasing power. According to United for Medical Research, in 2017, Missouri received $537.5 million in NIH grant funding, supporting 7,569 jobs and $1.305 billion in economic activity.

Blunt continued, “By surpassing the $2 billion goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s disease, the Labor/HHS bill supports innovative research aimed at finding a treatment, prevention, and cure for the most expensive disease in America. Washington University in St. Louis is leading the way on Alzheimer’s research, and this bill supports not only their efforts, but many research initiatives around our state, including the University of Missouri System, Children’s Mercy, St. Louis University, Webster University, and more. I will continue working with my colleagues to build upon our commitment to NIH research and maintain our competitive edge in innovation.” 

Following Are Several of the Key NIH Investments Included in the Labor/HHS Bill:

  • $2.34 Billion for Alzheimer’s Disease Research: The bill includes a $425 million increase from last year’s level. In 2018, Medicare and Medicaid estimate spending $186 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s, making it the most costly disease in America. Since Blunt became subcommittee chair four years ago, Alzheimer’s disease research funding has nearly quadrupled, increasing from $631 million to $2.34 billion. For the first time, funding will meet and surpass the goal set forth in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s disease.

  • $1.3 Billion for Opioid & Pain-Related Research: The bill includes $1.3 billion for research on opioid addiction, development of opioids alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment. If patients with acute or chronic pain do not have reasonable access to non-addictive pain medications or alternative treatments, it will be difficult to get the opioid crisis under control. This includes $500 million in dedicated funding provided to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Drug Abuse that was created in last year’s omnibus funding bill and $774 million in base funding available due to the significant investment in NIH the last four years.

  • $559.7 Million for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA): The measure includes $559.7 million, an increase of $17 million, for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ CTSA program. Washington University’s CTSA is part of the national program aimed at accelerating discoveries toward better health.

  • $429 Million for the BRAIN Initiative: The measure increases funding for the BRAIN initiative by $29 million above FY2018. The BRAIN Initiative is developing a more complete understanding of brain function, which could help millions of people who suffer from a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

  • $376 Million for the Precision Medicine Initiative: The measure increases funding for the All of Us precision medicine study, an increase of $86 million from FY2018. This study will take into account differences in biology, lifestyle, and environment to discover new paths towards delivering individualized precision medicine. National enrollment began on May 6, 2018.

  • $140 Million for Research on the Universal Flu Vaccine: Last year’s flu season was a high severity season with elevated and geographically widespread influenza activity across the country for an extended period. The bill provides an increase of $40 million in targeted funding to advance progress toward a universal flu vaccine. Under Blunt’s leadership, funding for a universal flu vaccine has more than doubled in the last two years. St. Louis University is part of NIH’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units working on a universal flu vaccine.

  • $12.6 Million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act: The Gabriella Miller Kids First Act, which was signed into law in 2014, created a dedicated fund for pediatric medical research. The bill provides the resources authorized under the law, and prioritizes funding for pediatric cancer research.

  • $550 Million to Combat Antibiotic Resistance: To help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs, the bill provides a total of $550 million, an increase of $37 million over last year’s level, to expand efforts to develop new antibiotics, create rapid diagnostic tests, and build a national genome sequence database on all reported resistant human infections. Antibiotics have been used to successfully treat patients for more than 70 years, but over time, the drugs have become less effective as organisms adapt to the drugs designed to kill them.

  • $6.14 Billion for Cancer Research:  The bill provides $6.14 billion for the National Cancer Institute, an increase of $186.9 million above FY2018. Siteman Cancer Center located at Washington University in St. Louis is the 6th largest cancer center in the country, receiving more than $89 million in funding from NIH.  In addition, the bill provides new funding for the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act, which Blunt cosponsored. The STAR Act is a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that would expand opportunities for childhood cancer research, improve efforts to identify and track incidence of childhood cancer, and enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors. It was signed into law on June 6, 2018.
In addition, the bill provides increases to every NIH Institute and Center to continue investments in innovative research that will advance fundamental knowledge and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.

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