The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2017 funding bill that gives the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a $2 billion increase, and marks the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years.
The U.S. Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee approved the last of 19 bipartisan pieces of biomedical legislation that will become the Senate companion to the 21st Century Cures Act back in April, but NIH funding remained an issue.
The funding bill approved today provides increased funding for healthcare research and to combat the growing opioid abuse crisis.
The bill will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
As it did last year, the subcommittee provides a $2 billion increase in fiscal year 2017 for the NIH to advance research on precision medicine, Alzheimer’s disease, the BRAIN Initiative and other ailments. The bill also includes a $126 million increase over fiscal year 2016 funding for programs targeted at fighting opioid abuse.
According to a Senate subcommittee press release about the funding bill, the bipartisan legislation funds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at $76.9 billion, a $1.4 billion increase above FY2016, including cap adjustments.
NIH funding was set at $34 billion, an increase of $2 billion above FY2016. The bill includes:
• $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $100 million;
• $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, an increase of $400 million;
• $250 million, an increase of $100 million, for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain;
• $333.4 million, an increase of $12.5 million, for the Institutional Development Award;
• $463 million, an increase of $50 million, to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria;
• $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act;
• Increases to every Institute and Center to continue investments in innovative research that will advance fundamental knowledge and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures.
And, $261 million was earmarked for fighting opioid abuse, an increase of $126 million or 93 percent, for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Health Resources and Services Administration programs targeted to combat opioid abuse. According to CDC, sales from prescription opioids nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. There has been a corresponding increase in deaths from prescription opioids, claiming more than 165,000 lives.
“First, the bill provides a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for research efforts that give hope to families battling life-threatening diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and to help more Americans live longer, healthier lives,” U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement. “Second, we restored year-round Pell Grants to expand eligibility and flexibility for an estimated one million students to receive an additional grant award during an academic year. Third, in response to the rising rates of opioid abuse nationwide, we have increased resources for treatment and prevention programs funded in this bill by 93 percent to help the estimated 1.9 million adults in the U.S. who have an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers, and the 586,000 who have an opioid use disorder related to heroin.”