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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR COMMENDS CONGRESS FOR PASSING THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH REFORM ACT OF 2006 AUTHORIZING HIGHER FUNDING LEVELS FOR RESEARCH

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) commended Congress for its December 9 passage of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reform Act of 2006 which reauthorizes the NIH for the first time since 1993. In the final hours of the 109th Congress, both the Senate and House passed a revised version of HR 6164, the initial House bill that passed September 26 with a strong bipartisan vote of 414-2. NAEVR had endorsed HR 6164 and subsequently worked with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senate appropriators and the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee to make further refinements to the bill.

"This legislation makes a strong statement about the importance of medical research with its increased authorization levels for NIH funding," said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky, who noted that the 110th Congress must still finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 NIH appropriations when it convenes in early January. "Since the legislation authorizes FY2007 funding at a seven percent increase over FY2006 while the President’s proposed FY2007 budget flat-funded the NIH, Congress will need to address this disparity." Mr. Jorkasky noted that NAEVR will continue to advocate for FY2007 funding increases for the NIH overall, as well as the National Eye Institute (NEI), and plans several advocacy and educational events in that regard for early 2007.

The NIH Reform Act of 2006 reauthorizes the NIH for three years and authorizes funding increases of seven percent in FY2007, eight percent in FY2008 and “such sums as necessary” in FY2009. In alignment with recommendations from a 2003 report entitled Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the bill: creates, funds and specifies the management of a "common fund" for trans-Institute NIH research; creates a Scientific Management Review Board to conduct periodic evaluations of NIH management and structure; and increases NIH transparency through more comprehensive reports to Congress. NAEVR has expressed its anticipation of the new opportunities for the NEI presented by the legislation’s newly established "common fund" as it has been a leader in trans-Institute research.

NAEVR announced that it would be issuing letters of commendation to key leaders engaged in this bipartisan effort, including House E&C Committee Chair Cong. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ranking Member Cong. John Dingell (D-MI), Senate HELP Committee Chair Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Ranking Member Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee Chair Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Ranking Member Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 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.