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 $37.1 billion in the government funding bill for this year, a $3 billion increase over last year’s level. Blunt previously secured two consecutive $2 billion funding increases for NIH, bringing the three-year total increase to $7 billion under Blunt’s subcommittee chairmanship. This was after a decade of stagnant funding that had resulted in NIH losing more than 20 percent of its purchasing power.
“Investments in medical research will pave the way for new treatments and cures, lower costs, and, most importantly, give hope to patients and families battling incurable diseases,” Blunt said. “The previous two funding increases for the National Institutes of Health have fundamentally changed the prospects of scientists looking to treat and cure the most costly and deadly diseases impacting millions of Americans. This year’s increase will further that progress and advance our goal of maintaining a pattern of sustained increases for medical research.”
In September 2017, the Blunt-led Labor/HHS subcommittee approved the third consecutive $2 billion increase for NIH. Last month, Blunt announced that the Bipartisan Budget Act increased NIH funding by another $1 billion each year for the next two years. As Labor/HHS chair, over the past three years, Blunt has increased NIH funding by a total of 23 percent.
Blunt continued, “Investing in NIH research will lead to medical breakthroughs that not only improve the quality of life for Americans, but are crucial for preventing, slowing, or stopping diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that will drive up Medicare and Medicaid-related costs over the long term. To continue making NIH funding a priority, we must also look at programs that are no longer needed or no longer working and make sure we’re directing resources toward those that are. Increasing funding for medical research has been a bipartisan priority for our subcommittee, and will continue to be one of my top priorities as chairman.”
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 has received several recognitions for his efforts to prioritize investments in medical research, including, most recently, the Distinguished Advocacy Award from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Distinguished Public Service Award from American Association for Cancer Research, the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy from Research!America, and the 2016 Humanitarian Award from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Following Are Several of the Key NIH Investments Included in the Omnibus Bill:
- $1.8 billion for Alzheimer’s Disease Research: The bill includes $1.8 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, a $414 million increase from last year’s level. In 2017, Medicare and Medicaid spent an estimated $175 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s, the most expensive disease in America, and other dementias. Since Blunt became subcommittee chair three years ago, Alzheimer’s disease research funding has more than tripled, increasing from $589 million to $1.8 billion.
- $500 Million Increase for Opioid-Related Research: The bill includes $732.9 million, a 215 percent increase over last year’s funding level, 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.
- $542.8 Million for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA): The measure includes $542.8 million, an increase of $26.7 million, for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ CTSA program. Washington University’s CTSA, which Blunt visited in August, is part of the national program aimed at accelerating discoveries toward better health.
- $400 Million for the BRAIN Initiative: The measure increases funding for the BRAIN initiative by $140 million, or 53.8 percent, above FY2017. 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.
- $60 Million Increase for the Precision Medicine Initiative: The measure includes $290 million to fund the All of US precision medicine study, an increase of $60 million from FY2017. This study will take into account differences in biology, lifestyle, and environment to discover new paths towards delivering individualized precision medicine.
- $100 Million for Research on the Universal Flu Vaccine: According to the CDC, the flu results in as many as 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths each season in the U.S. alone. The bill provides an increase of $40 million in targeted funding to advance progress toward 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.
- $513 Million to Combat Antibiotic Resistance: To help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs, the bill provides a total of $513 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. 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.
- Prohibition on Capping Facilities & Administrative Costs: The bill prevents the administration from instituting a cap on facilities and administrative costs, which are a fundamental part of conducting research.
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.