|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2020
|CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
NAEVR SUBMITS FY2020 TESTIMONY TO HOUSE APPROPRIATORS REQUESTING AT LEAST $41.6 B IN NIH, $850 M IN NEI FUNDING
(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written testimony to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding.
After thanking Congress for the total $9 billion in NIH funding increases over the past four fiscal years (2016 through 2019), NAEVR recognized that they have helped the agency regain some of the ground lost after years of effectively flat budgets. For FY2020, NAEVR urges the Subcommittee to appropriate at least $41.6 billion for NIH, a $2.5 billion or 6.4 percent increase over the FY2019 program level. This increase would allow for meaningful growth above inflation in the base budget to support promising science across all Institutes and Centers (ICs), as well as to ensure that funding from the Innovation Account established through the 21st Century Cures Act would supplement NIH's base budget, as intended, through dedicated funding for specific programs.
NAEVR also urged Congress to appropriate at least $850 million for the NEI, a $53 million or 6.4 percent increase over enacted FY2019. Despite the total FY2016-2019 funding increases of $120 million, NEI's enacted FY2019 budget of $797 million is just 14 percent greater than the pre-sequester FY2012 budget of $702 million. Averaged over the seven fiscal years, the 2 percent annual growth rate is less than the average annual biomedical inflation rate of 2.8 percent, thereby eroding purchasing power, which in FY2019 is equivalent to FY2001. NAEVR wrote:
"The NEI, which in 2018 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress in 1968, is the world leader in sight-saving and vision-restoring research. Congress must ensure robust NEI funding to address the challenges of The Decade of Vision 2010-2020as recognized by Congress in H. Res. 366 in 2009which include an aging population, disproportionate risk/incidence of eye disease in fast-growing minority populations, and impact on vision from many chronic diseases and their therapies.
We must maintain the momentum of vision research since vision health is vital to overall health and quality of life. Since the United States is a world leader in vision research and in training the next generation of vision scientists, the very health of the global vision research community is at stake."
Since Congress rejected the Trump Administration's two past budgets that proposed to cut NIH funding and make policy and structural changes, NAEVR did not address the President's FY2020 proposed cuts to NIH/NEI.
In addition to meeting with bipartisan members of the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss NIH/NEI funding, NAEVR has also hosted two Advocacy Days in which it made its funding requests a February 8 ARVO Advocacy Day that engaged vision researchers, and a March 28 Private Vision Research Funding Foundation Advocacy Day in which representatives discussed their role in providing funding support to early-stage researchers who have not yet received their first NIH/NEI grant, as well as bridge funding to seasoned investigators due to delayed appropriations.
To facilitate funding increases, NAEVR has also called upon Congress to pass a bipartisan budget deal to raise FY2020 and 2012 Budget Control Act caps, especially for NonDefense Discretionary spending, which includes biomedical research.
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.