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CCTS Newsletter | March 16, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

March 16, 2018

 

Following the release of the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request, agency heads began traveling to Capitol Hill for annual congressional hearings on the proposal. One of the first hearings to take place on the FY 2019 budget request was the House Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Committee’s hearing for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which featured the new HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

 

The administration’s budget request proposes a significant investment in public health activities focused on the opioids epidemic, but that investment is coupled with cuts to many research and patient care programs. Republican and Democratic Committee members shared a common refrain during the hearing by repeatedly applauding the request for new opioid resources and chastising the request for reductions to key programs (including the National Institutes of Health). The Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) put it in the starkest terms by questioning the logic and strategy behind adding $10 billion dollars in opioid resources and simultaneously asking for cuts of over $100 billion for Medicaid programs and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration activities that provide mental health and treatment services.

 

Through his testimony, Secretary Azar identified four priorities for the administration; combatting opioids, advancing healthcare access and affordability, addressing prices for prescription drugs, and transitioning to value-based healthcare. However, lawmakers showed a much greater interest in discussing ways to enhance funding for HHS programs. The Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11), briefly joined the hearing to state that progress is being made on finalizing the FY 2018 spending measures and that the recent budget deal will facilitate meaningful increases for HHS programs in FY 2018 and FY 2019. Nearly all lawmakers in attendance expressed support for substantially increasing NIH funding, and Subcommittee Chairman, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK-4), stated his satisfaction that the prior administration proposal to arbitrarily limit certain funds for researchers was not carried forward in the FY 2019 budget request (though new tactics are proposed).

 

The community’s annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Day will take place on April 19th as part of Translational Science 2018. We hope you will join your colleagues and advocate for additional funding for clinical and translational research programs as well as training and career development activities.