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Blunt Secures Missouri Priorities in Committee-Passed Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Bill

June 09, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, today announced that the full committee has passed the first bipartisan LHHS funding bill in seven years. The FY2017 bill prioritizes investments in programs that provide the most benefit to all Americans, while eliminating 18 ineffective or duplicative programs, totaling over $1 billion. Coupled with last year’s bill, the committee has approved a total of 36 program eliminations topping $1.25 billion.

“Hardworking Americans make tough choices every day when it comes to how they spend their money, and the government should be no different,” Blunt said. “This bill prioritizes critical investments in biomedical research, increasing NIH funding by $2 billion to help accelerate progress toward life-saving cures. It provides additional resources to combat the opioid epidemic by expanding access to treatment and prevention services. And, it restores year-round Pell Grants to help make college more affordable. We were able to advance these initiatives in a bipartisan way, as well as eliminating 18 programs totaling more than $1 billion dollars in this bill alone, and spending $270 million less than last year. I will continue working to ensure that every dollar we spend is directed toward the programs that provide the most benefit for families in Missouri and across the nation, and hope my colleagues will support that effort when this bill reaches the floor.”

Following Are Some of the Key Missouri Priorities Funded in the Bill

Department of Health and Human Services

  • $2 Billion Increase for NIH: For the second year in a row, the bill includes a $2 billion increase for NIH, providing a total of $34 billion. Last year’s $2 billion increase was the largest funding increase NIH received in the LHHS bill in over a decade, and this year’s bill marks a continuation of that historically-significant effort.

  • 93 Percent Funding Increase for Treatment and Prevention Programs to Combat the Opioid Epidemic: In 2014, the most recent year for which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data is available, more than 1,000 Missourians died from a drug overdose. The bill provides $261 million to fight both prescription opioid and heroin abuse, a 93 percent increase over last year’s level. When combined with mandatory funding for Community Health Centers, the Department of Health and Human Services will have access to $355 million in FY2017 to specifically target opioid abuse prevention and treatment. This is a 542 percent increase since FY2015.

  • $400 Million Increase for Alzheimer’s Disease Research: By 2050, the cost to treat and care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is expected to top $1.1 trillion a year, or twice the amount we currently spend to defend the country. Without a medical breakthrough to prevent, slow, or stop the disease, Medicare and Medicaid-related costs could rise nearly five-fold. The bill provides $1.39 billion, an increase of $400 million or 40 percent, above last year’s level, and a 120 percent increase in the last two years, to advance Alzheimer’s disease research.

  • $100 Million Increase for the Precision Medicine Initiative: Last year, the committee began a new Precision Medicine Initiative which utilizes specific genetic, environmental, and lifestyle data to tailor treatments to individuals. As Dr. Douglas Lowy, the Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute, explained at a recent hearing before the Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, this type of research is critical for determining how “you deliver the right drug, to the right patient, at the right time.” The bill provides $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $100 million.

  • $216.3 Million Increase for the National Cancer Institute: The bill provides $70 million to continue the NCI’s efforts relating to Precision Medicine.

  • $100 Million Increase for the BRAIN Initiative: The BRAIN Initiative is developing a more complete understanding of brain function and has the possibility of helping millions of people who suffer from a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, depression, and traumatic brain injury. The bill provides $250 million for the BRAIN Initiative, an increase of $100 million over last year’s level.

  • $463 Million to Combat Antibiotic Resistance: 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. Recently, the Washington Post reported that a patient in the United States carried a strain of E. coli resistant to antibiotics of last resort. To help combat these antibiotic-resistant superbugs, the bill provides a total of $463 million, an increase of $50 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.

  • $80 Million Increase in Mental Health Funding: The bill provides $541.5 million, an increase of $30 million over last year’s level, for the Mental Health Block Grant. It also continues the set-aside for serious mental illness activities at 10 percent. The block grants represent the primary sources of mental health funding for state programs. The bill also provides $50 million within the funding for community health centers to provide mental health services nationwide.

  • $12.6 Million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First 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.  

  • $25 Million Increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program:  Missouri currently receives $52 million in discretionary funding under the CCDBG program to support working families’ access to quality child care. The bill provides $2.8 billion, an increase of $25 million over last year’s level, with a focus on helping states implement key quality improvement reforms in the CCDBG Act of 2014 to improve child care health and safety standards.

  • Breast Cancer Education: Following the inclusion of Blunt’s Breast Cancer Patient Education Act in last year’s omnibus appropriations bill,  the LHHS bill includes language reinforcing the importance of implementing an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients about the availability and required insurance coverage of breast reconstruction surgery.

  • Taxpayer Transparency: The bill includes Blunt’s Taxpayer Transparency Act requiring agencies funded under the Labor/HHS appropriations bill to disclose when advertising materials are paid for with federal funds.

Department of Education:

  • Year-Round Pell Grants: Pell Grants are a vital tool for making college more affordable for students in Missouri and across the nation. By allowing full and part-time students to receive an additional Pell Grant during the year, the bill will help them stay on track for graduation, enter or re-enter the workforce sooner, and graduate with less debt. This bill will provide an estimated one million students, on average, an extra $1,650 to help pay for college.

  • Support for Ferguson and Other Communities Facing Civil Unrest: The bill continues provisions and funding across the Departments of Labor, HHS, Education, and AmeriCorps to support flexible solutions for communities like Ferguson and others across the nation facing intense periods of civil unrest. This includes a combined $15 million at the Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to address the comprehensive needs, including school-based services, of youth experiencing trauma related to significant periods of civil unrest in their communities.

  • $10 Million Increase for Impact Aid – Missouri school districts receive approximately $23.5 million in Impact Aid payments annually, including approximately $1 million for 20 school districts under the Federal property program that would have been eliminated under the administration’s budget request. The bill provides $1.32 billion, an increase of $10 million above last year’s level, for Impact Aid. The program provides flexible support to local school districts impacted by the presence of federally-owned land and activities, such as military bases. The bill rejects the administration’s proposed elimination of the Federal property program, and instead includes a $2 million increase for that program.

Department of Labor:

  • $3.4 Million Increase for Veterans Employment and Training: The bill provides $274.5 million in Veterans Employment and Training funding, an increase of $3.4 million above last year’s level. That funding will support intensive employment services to veterans and eligible spouses, transitioning servicemembers, wounded warriors, and disabled veterans.  Additional funds for the homeless veterans program in particular will help increase program enrollment and provide additional specialized services, such as job training, social services, clothing, guidance for substance abuse treatment, transportation, and housing referrals.
  • $21 Million Increase for Job Corps: Missouri has three Job Corps centers located in Excelsior Springs, Mingo, and St. Louis. Nationwide, approximately 95 percent of Job Corps students successfully attain industry-recognized certifications. The bill provides $1.7 billion for Job Corps, a $21 million increase above last year’s level. 

  • Occupational Licensing Portability Initiative – The bill provides $8.5 million to support the continuation of a new effort to establish a consortium (or multiple consortia) of states to begin the analysis and development of frameworks for reciprocity or other forms of portability for certain occupational licenses. This will help reduce unnecessary barriers to mobility and re-employment for thousands of dislocated workers, transitioning servicemembers, military spouses, and others. 

Additional information on programs funded in the LHHS appropriations bill is available here.

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