2018 Research and Public Health Funding Advocacy Highlights
During 2018, ASH continued to be highly visible in our advocacy for federal support of biomedical research and public health funding, including funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of these efforts and the work of medical research advocates across the country, Congress passed final fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations legislation in late September 2018 that included a $2 billion dollar (5.4 percent) increase for the NIH, bringing the agency’s total funding level to $39.1 billion. The bill also included $7.95 billion in funding for CDC, a more than $126 million increase over FY 2018.
President Trump signed the funding bill into law on September 28. This marked the fourth consecutive year of funding increases for NIH and the first time in more than two decades that the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which funds NIH and CDC, as well as numerous other federal public health agencies, was enacted before the start of the fiscal year.
- Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns: ASH developed several on-line advocacy campaigns for all Grassroots Network members to join in an effort to urge Congress to support federal medical research and public health program funding. Members may visit the ASH Advocacy Center to find sample letters supporting funding for NIH and CDC. They can then enter their contact information, and the site will send the letter directly to their Representative and Senators. Information is also included about how to contact Members of Congress via phone or engage via Twitter. During the past year, members of the ASH Grassroots Network sent more than 600 messages to Capitol Hill in support of NIH and public health funding.
- Hill Days and Congressional Visits: More than 125 congressional appointments with Members of Congress and their staff were made in Washington, DC by the ASH Committee on Government Affairs, ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute participants, ASH Officers, and other ASH members throughout the year. The message conveyed to Congress during these meetings focused on the value of NIH and the need to support sustained federal research funding.
- Testimony: Earlier this year, during hearings concerning the FY 2019 federal budget, ASH submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supporting funding for NIH and CDC and urging the committees to recognize the progress and potential future advances shown by hematology research.
- Coalition Activities: ASH continues to work with the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF), the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, and members of the biomedical research and public health communities to advocate on behalf of NIH and public health program funding. As part of this effort, ASH was once again a sponsor and supporter of the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, held September 13 in Washington, DC. Patient advocates, caregivers, researchers and health professionals from more than 350 partnering organizations met with House and Senate offices to call on our nation's policymakers to make funding for the NIH a priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in scientific research. ASH has also worked with many organizations to prevent passage of legislative language that would severely limit federally funded stem cell and fetal tissue research.
Additionally, in September, ASH was a sponsor of CHF’s third annual Public Health Fair on Capitol Hill. Over forty different medical specialty and patient focused societies participated in the Public Health Fair with the aim of showing legislators and their staff the importance of robust public health and research funding. ASH’s booth focused on promoting awareness and educating congressional members and staff about venous thromboembolism (VTE). ASH member and VTE expert, Sarah O’Brien, MD, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, joined ASH staff at the table to provide first-hand knowledge about treating patients with VTE and to explain why sustained funding for federal VTE programs within the NIH and CDC is needed.
- ASH Research Agenda Videos: ASH has created several videos to show the progress being made in several of the priority areas of hematology research identified in the ASH Agenda for Hematology Research. These videos were created to share with elected officials and their staff to illustrate the need for sustained funding for NIH.
Additional materials, comment letters, and testimony concerning ASH advocacy related to NIH funding can be found on the ASH website.