|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2004
|CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
NAEVR Commends Senate Appropriations Committee for Approving an FY2005 LHHS Spending Bill with Increased Funding for Medical Research
(Washington, DC) Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) FY2005 spending bill with a funding level for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of $28.9 billion, which is a 4 percent or $1.1 billion increase over the FY2004 appropriation. The bill also provides a funding level for the National Eye Institute (NEI) of $680.3 million, which is a 4.2 percent or $27 million increase over the FY2004 appropriation.
The Committee's mark for the NIH is $373 million more than that in the House bill (HR 5006) and the President's FY2005 budget request; the mark for the NEI is nearly $9 million more than that in the House bill and President's budget request. The full Senate must still take action on the bill, which has not yet been scheduled.
In commenting on the Committee's action, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky said, "NAEVR commends the Committee and especially the leadership shown by Senators Stevens (R-AK), Specter (R-PA) and Harkin (D-IA) to ensure a level of funding for medical research at the NIH, generally, and at the NEI, specifically, which is greater than that in the President's budget request. Although NAEVR will continue to advocate for $711 million for the NEI to complete its budget-doubling since FY1998 and bring it into parity with the doubling that has occurred within the NIH overall, we appreciate this significant action to close the gap in eye and vision research funding." Jorkasky added that any additional dollars for the NEI would be well spent since the current annual economic and societal cost for eye disease and vision impairment is $68 billion and growing.
During the Committee's discussion, Senator Specter, Chair of the LHHS Subcommittee, commented that the increased funding was due to the vocal and consistent messages that Members heard from constituents about the importance of medical research. NAEVR has played a prominent role on Capitol Hill with respect to the value message of eye and vision research, which includes distributing a new Age-related Eye Disease Fact Sheet and following up with staff after Capitol Hill educational briefings held by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) on the Aging Eye (May 2004) and Vision Health Disparities Research (September 2004).
The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of nearly 50 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR's goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI), and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.