NIH Budget Situation Remains Uncertain
Although Congress and the Obama administration reached an agreement to delay the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (“sequestration”) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies and programs that were scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the year, federal funding for biomedical research remains in jeopardy.
While the agreement reached in January protects the country from going over the so-called fiscal cliff until March 1, NIH and other non-defense discretionary programs are not safeguarded from either future cuts or the new cliff deadline. As this issue of The Hematologist went to press, congressional negotiators were continuing efforts to reach a deal to avert these catastrophic across-the-board spending cuts, but it was uncertain if a deal could be reached by the March 1 deadline, if the cuts would be again delayed temporarily, or if the cuts would be allowed to take effect.
To complicate matters even more, fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding for NIH has only been provided through March 27, and Congress must finalize the FY 2013 budget before the temporary funding expires. Additionally, as this issue went to press, it was expected that the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request from the Obama administration would be delayed. By law, the budget request is due before Congress by the first Monday in February. However, because of ongoing uncertainty over the fiscal cliff and sequestration, it was expected that this year’s request would be postponed until mid-March. The late delivery of the President’s request to Capitol Hill will likely mean a delay in the entire budget process for FY 2014 and lingering budget uncertainty for NIH.
What’s the takeaway?
Key congressional decisions impacting biomedical research funding remain unresolved.
Advocacy by Hematologists Crucial to Safeguarding Biomedical Research Funding
Last year, ASH launched an aggressive multifaceted strategy to protect research funding and take a balanced approach to reducing the deficit without further cutting NIH and other core federal programs. This approach involved enhanced advocacy efforts, including a “Fly-In Day,” advocacy leadership training, and online advocacy campaigns, letters-to-the-editor; the creation of the ASH Bridge Grant program; and expanded communication efforts to educate ASH members, the media, and the public about the value of research funding.
This year ASH will continue and expand its efforts. In the coming weeks, for example, ASH will:
- Initiate a campaign to educate newly elected Members of Congress about the NIH so that they understand federal funding for NIH protects the well being of this country, generates jobs, and helps secure America’s position as a global leader in science and medicine
- Conduct Capitol Hill Days with the ASH Government Affairs and Scientific Affairs Committees
- Coordinate online advocacy campaigns so that all ASH members can quickly and easily contact their Members of Congress and share ASH’s message
- Work in coalition with others in the research community to advocate for biomedical research.
What you can do:
What’s the takeaway?
Advocacy by hematologists and members of the research community is critical to obtaining Congressional support for biomedical research funding.
One-Year ‘Doc Fix’ Included in Fiscal Cliff Package
The fiscal cliff legislation passed by the Congress on January 1 includes a one-year payment patch for physicians who treat Medicare patients. The deal blocks the scheduled 27 percent payment cuts to Medicare physicians that were slated to start January 1 and keeps rates frozen at current levels for one year. The legislation also defers, for two months, sequestration cuts that included an additional two percent reduction in Medicare payments. ASH encourages all clinicians to join the Society in continuing to pressure Congress to repeal permanently the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula by visiting the ASH Advocacy Center (www.hematology.org/takeaction) and sending an email to your elected officials.
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