Thursday, February 4, 2010

Health Research in the President's FY2011 Budget

With the release of his FY 2011 budget proposal, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to science and research by making them a priority amid efforts to limit spending. Although President Obama recommended a freeze on the part of the budget that includes research, he opted to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Science Foundation.

Under the President’s proposal, the overall NIH budget would increase 3.2% percent to $32.1 billion in FY 2011. This recommended boost to the budget is an excellent beginning to the priority-setting conversation that now moves to Congress. Ultimately, an FY2011 budget less than $35 billion will not allow NIH to sustain the research capacity made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The NIH has been functioning with a $35 billion budget for two years and we cannot afford to lose ground as the nation struggles out of the Great Recession.

In a briefing Monday afternoon, NIH Director, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, emphasized that the administration is focused on science-based budgeting, with the intent to prioritize resources and take advantage of the greatest scientific opportunity. Dr. Collins most recently outlined his priorities for the agency in Science magazine (subscription required). As a result of the science-based budgeting approach, percent increases for individual institutes and centers varied across NIH. President Obama again called for specific increases for cancer and autism research as he did in his 2010 budget proposal.

Maintaining an emphasis on evidence-based medicine, President Obama proposed $611 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a 53.9% increase. Of this, $286 million is allocated for comparative effectiveness research. President Obama is keeping the NSF on a budget doubling track, by recommending $7.4 billion for the agency, an 8.0% increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not fare as well, with the President recommending a 2% cut to $6.3 billion.

Since the budget and appropriations process is now in the hands of Congress, it is time for advocates to start contacting their representatives and senators in support of robust increases for research to improve health in FY 2011. New Voices will keep you posted on updates in the budget and appropriations process and alert you when your voice can make the most difference.

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