Monday, June 27, 2011

Spending cuts again?

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America, September 15, 2010
Appropriations season is upon us! This is that special time of year when Congress makes funding recommendations for all discretionary programs. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a quick rundown of how health research agencies have fared, and what the prospects are for the next fiscal year.

As part of the recent FY 2011 budget deal, the White House and Congressional leaders agreed to a budget that would fund the government through September 30, 2011. Remember, this was the 11th hour deal that narrowly averted a government shutdown. However, this deal resulted in budget cuts to several health research agencies.

NIH was cut by $320M (1.2%), CDC received a whopping 11% cut – dialing their funding back to 2003 levels, the NSF was cut by $53M, which will mean about 250 fewer awards, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was cut by $25M (6%). The FDA was given a $107M boost in funding (for FY 2011), but the House recently passed an FY 2012 cut of $285M.

In general, the House is highly averse to any new spending and is even reluctant to accept flat budgets for discretionary agencies. Many of the new Members in the House feel that they are in office to slash agency budgets and deeply cut government spending.

On the Senate side, Members are more open to flat-funding government agencies. It’s hard to say what all of this will mean for health research in the FY 2012, but given the current political climate and state of our national debt, we can expect cuts to continue.

That is why it is more important than ever that you reach out to your representatives and let them know that further cuts are unacceptable. At the end of the day you are their constituent - this means that your representative’s work for you. If you talk, they will listen.

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