Following a major effort by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) a key Senate committee, the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, included $30.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its yearly budget, a $307 million increase from last year. Senator Casey led a bipartisan group of 52 Senators in urging the committee to maintain a strong commitment to funding the NIH, sending a letter outlining the importance of these funds. Now that the subcommittee has included increased funding for NIH in its yearly appropriations bill, it is increasingly likely these this funding will be included in Congress' overall fiscal year budget which will likely be decided in September.
"Medical research saves lives, creates jobs and has a major impact on Pennsylvania's economy," Senator Casey said. "I urged the committee to support funding for NIH so that our state can continue to lead the way in medical breakthroughs, and I am pleased that the subcommittee included an increase for the NIH's budget. If we make the right investments in medical research, the next big cure for a major disease could come from a Pennsylvania laboratory instead of a laboratory in another country - that outcome will be good for patients and job creation."
The full text of Senator Casey's letter to the committee can be seen below:
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Chairwoman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Richard C. Shelby
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
The Honorable Jerry Moran
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
Dear Chairwoman Mikulski, Vice Chairman Shelby, Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran:
As you and your colleagues begin to work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 appropriations bills, we respectfully request that you maintain a strong commitment to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill. We believe that it is essential to continue federal support for medical research because of the potential health benefits for all Americans and the importance of ensuring that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research.
The NIH is our country's premier institution for medical research, supporting research in all fifty states. It offers our best hope for treating or curing debilitating diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so many other illnesses that American families battle every day. It is through the innovative medical research supported by the NIH that we may have a chance to contain the increasing health care costs associated with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. A large portion of the projected increase in health care expenditures in the coming decades is due to demographic changes and the escalating costs associated with many medical conditions and chronic diseases that cost the federal government and private sector billions of dollars each year.
Our investment in the NIH has yielded an unprecedented number of scientific advances that have improved health outcomes and contributed significantly to the Nation's economic growth. NIH grants fund basic medical and translational research that turns bench-side findings into bedside interventions for patients. Unfortunately, America is losing ground as the world leader in research and development and researchers are struggling to secure funding. As NIH grants get more competitive, researchers can easily spend half their careers working before receiving a grant, resulting in promising, talented young researchers being discouraged from the field of biomedical research and some investigators deciding to abandon scientific research altogether or to conduct their research outside the United States.
We all recognize the difficult choices that need to be made with respect to the budget as we seek to reduce the deficit. If we are to improve the health of Americans and the quality of their lives, we must continue to invest in areas like biomedical research that have the potential to save money in the future, improve the lives of Americans, and offer an economic return for our Nation. We urge you to consider the tremendous benefits of a sustained investment in the NIH, and ask you to remember our Nation's role as a world leader in biomedical research and the impact this research has on patients as your Committee makes funding decisions for FY 2014. Investing in research today will yield cures and therapies for patients tomorrow.