FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2013
|CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
NAEVR COMMENDS SENATE SPENDING ALLOCATIONS, NOTES IMPORTANCE OF NEI FUNDING AS A RESULT OF A NEW $139 BILLION ESTIMATE OF THE ANNUAL COST OF VISION DISORDERS
(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) commended the Senate Appropriations Committee for the allocation it has provided to the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) for its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 spending bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI). NAEVR especially wishes to thank Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for her leadership and support for biomedical research at NIH.
The Senate’s adoption of an LHHS allocation of $164.33 billion contrasts with that of the House, which in May adopted an LHHS allocation of $121.8 billion, which translates into a nearly 19 percent cut below the FY2013 post-sequester level and a potential $5.3 billion cut in NIH funding in the coming year. Researchers are already grappling with the $1.7 billion cut to NIH in FY2013, which also reduced NEI funding by $36 million and cut the number of grants by 30-any one of which could hold the promise to save or restore vision.
The Senate’s leadership to sustain biomedical research funding cannot come at a more important time for the vision research community. A June 18 study commissioned by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago estimates the annual cost of vision disorders at $139 billion, which is twice that previously reported. More importantly, the study’s authors emphasize that the financial burden will continue to grow due to increasing healthcare costs and an aging population.
Commenting on the Senate’s allocations, NAEVR Executive Director said:
“As NAEVR has stated in March 13 verbal testimony in the House and in April 29 written testimony to the Senate, as well as in letters to Congressional appropriators, the NEI is facing a significant challenge with the aging of the population and the increased risk of eye disease. The new PBA study confirms the significant costs associated with vision disorders and emphasizes that they will only increase. Congress must ensure growth in the NEI budget to fund research that saves and restores vision.”
The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.