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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 22, 2004
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

As Congress Passes FY2005 Spending Bill, NAEVR Commends Appropriations Leadership for Increases in Medical Research/Eye and Vision Research Funding

(Washington, DC) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) expressed appreciation to the leadership of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, and their respective Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittees, for ensuring increases in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), generally, and the National Eye Institute (NEI), specifically.

On November 20, the Senate and House approved the Omnibus FY2005 spending bill that appropriates $28.6 billion for the NIH (a 2.8 percent or $800 million increase) and $674.6 million for the NEI (a 3.3 percent or $21.9 million increase). The appropriated amounts will be reduced by an across-the-board .83 percent cut on non-defense, non-homeland security spending, resulting in a net $28.4 billion for the NIH (2 percent increase) and $669 million for the NEI (2.5 percent increase).

Commenting on the medical research funding increases, NAEVR President Stephen J. Ryan (President, Doheny Eye Institute) said, "Given the tight fiscal environment, we commend the Appropriations leaders from both sides of the aisle for ensuring increases in federally funded medical research. They are making a cost-effective investment that will result in treatments and therapies to delay or prevent the onset of disease and improve the quality of life for all Americans."

While acknowledging that the FY2005 appropriated level for the NEI is still only 94 percent of the NEI budget-doubling goal of $711 million (to bring it into parity with the budget-doubling that occurred overall at the NIH from FY1998-FY2003), NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky said that the Appropriators' actions were a "significant step to close the gap in eye and vision research funding." Jorkasky added, "The economic and societal costs of eye disease and vision impairment are $68 billion annually. Since the net FY2005 programmatic budget for the NEI is about 1 percent of that cost, NAEVR will continue to advocate for completion of the NEI budget-doubling to $711 million to ensure adequate research resources to deal with this major public health problem."

Jorkasky emphasized NAEVR's prominent presence this past session on Capitol Hill with respect to the value message of eye and vision research, which included 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.