Trump Administration Takes New Tack in Attempt to Cut NIH Funding: Lawmakers Push Back

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The Trump budget will be released next week. A report in the Atlantic suggesting that the Trump administration is taking a new tack in its attempt to reduce the National Institutes of Health budget, resulted in a flurry of comments.

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[/fright]The new plan, which the administration says may not make it in the budget, effectively attempts an end run around the funding issue by requiring the NIH to cap the "indirect costs" to pays to the Universities by 10%. One NIH source in the Atlantic article suggested the Trump administration was using smoke and mirrors to get its intended cuts through.

“They’re trying to pretend that they’ll cut something without actually cutting science.”
If the Trump proposal went through the NIH budget would be cut about $5 billion - not far from the $8 billion cut the Trump administration originally proposed.

As we've learned, indirect costs - which consist of payments to the academic institutions - can take up as much as 30% of a researchers budget. (Twenty-seven of the NIH's budget last year went to indirect costs.) These costs go to supporting the administration, equipment, laboratories, lighting, electricity, and other overhead that are part of running a research effort.

A former NIH Director said the cuts would "disembowel" medical research efforts.

“Even if you wanted to do this, you don’t do it in one year,” Harold Varmus, a former NIH director, told The Atlantic. “It would be a tremendous blow for many of our research institutions and ignores the real cost of doing research. If you really want to disembowel a source of learning and ingenuity in America, this is what you do.”
Inefficiencies May Be Present

Indirect costs may in fact be too high and inefficiencies may be present which could be weeded out of the system. The Bill Gates Foundation, and other private foundations, for instance, provide only 10% in indirect costs to their grantees.

According to MedPage, Francis Collins - that acting NIH director - suggested that some requirements such as "effort reporting" could be cut back. (The extensive effort reporting requirements for the NIH funded ME/CFS centers, for instance, have caused consternation amongst some ME/CFS researchers who fear they will take up a good chunk of their budget.)

"This might be a really good moment to revisit a lot of the regulations that we have asked them to put forward—things like effort reporting, which take a lot of time and don't accomplish very much" Francis Collins
Large Cut Could Have Devastating Effects

A sweeping cut like the one proposed, though, could have devastating effects on universities ability to maintain their research labs and research efforts. The Atlantic reported that Mary Wooley, the head of Research!America, said the proposal was using a sledgehammer where a scalpel was needed.

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[/fright]Science reported that Francis Collins asserted that the indirect costs paid to Universities do not cover the full costs of doing NIH funded research. Cutting the funds that dramatically would result in some Universities being unable to continue doing NIH funded research.

Meanwhile Francis Collins, citing a recent meeting he had with drug companies, asserted that the basic research the NIH did was critical to the development of new drugs.
"If we were not able to do this basic research, the companies made it quite clear they would not be able to [do theirs]. The conclusion of that group was that we have an amazing engine for discovery ... You don't want to put sand in the gears."
House Members Push Back

For the most part, the Appropriations subcommittee members in the House pushed back hard against the proposed cuts. While some called for a deeper look at indirect costs, most - both Republican and Democrat - called for more NIH funding not less.

Medpage reported that House appropriations subcommittee chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he was "especially disappointed" in the Trump administration's $8 million budget cut, saying that it would "discourage promising scientists from entering or remaining in biomedical research. The top ranking member of the subcommittee, Rosa DeLauro, stated that "Everyone on this committee recognizes the importance of restoring the purchasing power of NIH."

The House this year not only ignored the Trump administrations call for a $1 billion cut to the NIH's 2017 budget but actually increased the NIH's budget by $2 billion.

The Trump administration's proposed budget for 2018 will be presented next week. From there Congress will have a scant four months - a shorter time than usual apparently - to approve a budget before the budget for this year runs out in October.
 
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GG

Well-Known Member
The art of the deal? Let the Trump hysteria continue. Most of US will survive!

Francis Collins is part of the Bloated Bureaucracy, so he doesn't have much credence to me in fiscal matters!

Only in DC is Not a rise in a budget seen as a cut! The costs go up by at least 3% a year, but our own wealth/pay does not grow that much. Sounds sustainable, Rome was once a great society as well :)

GG
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
I don't think its hysteria to be worried when the NIH is facing a major cut in funding just as ME/CFS gets its first bump up in funding in decades. This disease needs all the money it can get. The NIH is actually doing VERY valuable work with its ME/CFS studies and with the intramural study.

No private group or foundation can fund the kind of major studies that the NIH does. That's why Ron Davis keeps putting applications in. that's why he and 9 others applied to become an NIH Research Center. That why the SMCI and Simmaron continue to fund pilot projects to get the data to apply for NIH grants.

If your concern is ME/CFS moving forward then I suggest that the best thing to do is to support every funding source possible.
The art of the deal? Let the Trump hysteria continue. Most of US will survive!

Francis Collins is part of the Bloated Bureaucracy, so he doesn't have much credence to me in fiscal matters!

Only in DC is Not a rise in a budget seen as a cut! The costs go up by at least 3% a year, but our own wealth/pay does not grow that much. Sounds sustainable, Rome was once a great society as well :)

GG
 

Ladyliegh

Active Member
I will hold my breath... the funding increase we had hoped for will not happen with the current administration. Guaranteed!
Our desperately needed funding is earmarked for Trump's Wall, clearly he feels we are in dire need of protecting our country from Mexicans, much more than research funding for CFS/ME. Not to mention, health insurance, also in jeopardy of being warped into something less than it needs to be.(sigh) I would add more, but trying to stay on topic... If I wasn't in a severe relapse, I would be very politically active at this time. But my envelope of 2 hours of functionality limits where I spend my energy. The only bright spot to me is the support from many extra people in positions to assist & the hope following the new discoveries in the past couple of years. If I knew a magic formula to assist in getting more financial support, I would implement it immediately! We need a "Farm aid" concert for CFS/ME. Who knows Cher? We face the same problem we've had for years...no one cares! (No one in a position to increase funding anyway)
 
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