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Statement from ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, on Administration’s Proposed Cuts to Public Health, Need to Raise the Caps

(WASHINGTON, March 12, 2019) — Yesterday, President Donald Trump released a fiscal year 2020 budget request that proposes a 12 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This includes a $4.716 billion (12.1%) cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s largest funder of biomedical research, and a $750 million cut in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

These agencies play a vital role in supporting much of the world’s hematology-related biomedical research and in supporting programs to prevent and control clotting, bleeding, and other hematologic disorders. 

2019 American Society of Hematology (ASH) President Roy Silverstein of the Medical College of Wisconsin issued the following statement: 

“ASH is deeply concerned that the president’s proposal to cut public health funding will jeopardize existing research programs, potentially halt exploration into new and promising avenues of study, and negatively affect our nation’s health.

NIH investment in basic and clinical research over decades has led to what is now an exciting time for hematology and public health. Cell and gene therapies are promising treatments for a growing number of diseases, anti-cancer regimens are better tolerated, and big data offers the opportunity to learn more than ever before about our health. Slashing the budget will significantly endanger this progress.

NIH typically receives bipartisan support not only because it is important to the health of our nation, but also because it is vital to our economic sustainability. NIH funding creates jobs and supports communities. The agency is responsible for over $60 billion in new economic activity on an annual basis, supporting more than 300,000 jobs. 

ASH encourages members of Congress to come together and ultimately pass an NIH budget of no less than $41.6 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion over current funding. This budget would allow NIH to continue to support existing research, including projects included in the Innovation Account established by the 21st Century Cures Act, such as the Precision Medicine Initiative, and also support new programs in promising fields. The Society also encourages Congress to provide CDC with at least $7.8 billion in FY 2020.

In order to allow for these increases in funding, Congress must first act quickly to pass legislation to raise harmful budget caps that place strict spending limits on non-defense discretionary programs such as NIH and CDC. These caps, put in place in 2011, would prevent these programs from receiving spending increases.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have consistently united in support of NIH, CDC, and other public health programs. ASH calls on appropriators to continue to support biomedical innovation as they consider this proposal from the White House.”

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online. In 2016, ASH launched Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org), an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

Amanda Szabo, American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4914