Senate committee wants to bump up 2018 NIH spending by $2B

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A Senate committee wants a budget bump for the NIH for fiscal 2018.

Although the Trump Administration has shown some hostility toward funding healthcare and related scientific initiatives, there was bipartisan support in the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bump up spending in fiscal 2018.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved (PDF) a FY 2018 funding bill that provides $164.1 billion in base discretionary funding for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education, and related agencies. The bill is $3 billion above the FY2017 level and $27.5 billion above the President’s budget request

The bill includes an additional $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, to $36.1 billion. The boost to the NIH represents a 6% percent funding increase compared to fiscal 2017, and is nearly double what a similar House committee had recommended, according to Science magazine.

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RELATED: House appropriations bill sidesteps Trump budget proposal, adds billions to HHS, NIH

The NIH bump includes:

  • $1.8 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, a $414 million increase
  • $400 million for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain, a $140 million increase
  • $80 million for the National Cancer Institute’s precision medicine program, a $10 million increase
  • $513 million to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria, a $50 million increase

There is also additional funding of $816 million to address the nation’s opioid epidemic, a $665 million or 440% increase since fiscal year 2016, for programs to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

By contrast, the Trump administration had requested an appropriation that was $24.5 billion below the fiscal 2017 appropriation of $161.1 billion. It had request a 22% cut to the NIH budget. Among the cuts was a proposal to reduce payments from NIH to universities by 66% to cover the associated overhead costs of research grants, including utilities, administrative staff and hazardous waste disposal, among other services.

RELATED: Trump budget proposal cuts billions and would 'devastate' healthcare programs

“For the second year in a row, this subcommittee has come together to craft a bipartisan bill that prioritizes resources for programs hat will have the most benefit for the most Americans,” U.S. Senator Roy Blunt chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement (PDF). “I’m proud that we were able to secure another $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, which will provide doctors and researchers additional resources to help them treat and cure our most deadly and costliest diseases.”

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