Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Because the NIH's 2016 budget was finalized in April, finding money to increase ME/CFS research for next year wasn't going to be easy. NIH Director Francis Collin has said, though, if Congress increases NIH funding - money could be found there.
Thankfully NIH spending is one of the few types of spending that receives bipartisan support. In fact Newt Gingrich pioneered a Republican lead push to double NIH funding in the late 1990's.
Patrick White president of the advocacy foundation Act for NIH said that two factors: the 2013 government shutdown which hit the NIH particularly hard and increasing biomedical investment in China has put the NIH back on the front burner politically.
Two days ago the Government Executive reported in "NIH Could Soon See a Significant Funding Boost From Congress" that the increases were not only on track but may have grown. It tracked a change in NIH's fortunes in Congress to the overwhelming support given the 21st Century Cures Act in the House. (It passed by a 344-77 vote). In a Nov. 2015 letter more than a hundred Democrats Republicans asked for a $2 billion dollar increase in NIH funding next year. The letter stated:
We are concerned that, over the last 12 years, the federal government’s contributions toward basic research at NIH have consistently failed to keep pace with inflation. By failing to at least hold NIH funding constant with other rising costs, Congress has allowed the agency’s purchasing power to diminish by more than 20 percent since 2003.
Indiscriminate budget cuts imposed on the agency during sequestration only further exacerbated this trend, reducing NIH’s budget by an additional 5 percent in FY 2013. As the growth in other countries’ investments in medical research continues to far outpace those made here in the U.S., it is more critical than ever that we act to reverse this trend.
House Republicans then went the bipartisan effort one further by asking for a minimum of a $3 billion increase in funding.
For once ME/CFS couldn't have better timing. It's never done until it's done in politics but large amounts of new money may showing up just after Director Collins publicly promised that the NIH is going to move "aggressively" on ME/CFS research. Collins specifically said he was not referring to small increases in funding either. Plus, because HIV/AIDS will not be getting its usual 10% cut almost all, if not all of the money will be available to other diseases.
If we can't get significant new funding now it's hard to imagine when we will be able to.
Some of that increase is reportedly getting eaten up by Alzheimer's research and the new Brain Research Initiative but more than enough should be available for ME/CFS to get a significant increase.
Will ME/CFS get its increase? We should know soon.The Omnibus bill will reportedly probably pass over the weekend.
- Learn more about how long term changes in how the NIH funds diseases may benefit ME/CFS and FM in NIH To Shift Funding Priorities: Will Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Benefit?
Funding for FY16
The article “Spending bills put NIH on track for biggest raise in 12 years” by Jocelyn Kaiser published in Science this week alerts researchers that Congress, recognizing the need for increased research opportunities, may be about to give NIH its largest funding boost in a decade. Three bills have been proposed with the Senate bill offering the largest increase. A table below displays current spending levels and those proposed for 2016.
Drafts of each bill –both of which increase the amount requested by the Administration – have been approved by the appropriations subcommittee of each Chamber.
Winners in both the House and Senate bills include Alzheimer’s research and the recently canceled National Children’s Study, both of which bode well for UTMB researchers. Other specific programs for funding include the federal antibiotic resistance initiative, the President’s new Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN project.
Unfortunately, both bills call to either significantly lower or completely eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which supports studies of evidence-based medicine.