House Bill Proposes Flat NIH Funding, No Cut to NEI Due to Transfer of AIDS Funding

House Bill Proposes Flat NIH Funding, No Cut to NEI Due to Transfer of AIDS Funding

Legislative Update
July 18, 2012

Today, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 spending bill. The draft bill includes $150 billion in discretionary spending, which is a cut of $6.3 billion below the FY2012 level and $8.8 billion below the President’s budget. This funding level is more than $2 billion below that of FY2009.

The bill would flat-fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $30.6 billion, per the President’s budget request. This level is $100 million below that in the Senate’s bill (S. 3295, approved on June 14 by the Senate Appropriations Committee). The House bill funds the National Eye Institute (NEI) at $701.8 million, reflecting a minimal 0.01 percent cut from the FY2012 level of $702.71 million, unlike the President’s budget proposal which cuts the NEI by $8.9 million (1.2 percent) due to a transfer of AIDS funding reflecting dissolution of the Cytomegalovirus (CMS) Retinitis clinical trials. The Senate bill cuts NEI funding by the $8.9 million but then adds back in $2 million for a net funding level of $695.1 million (0.9 percent cut). This reflects a $6.7 million difference in NEI funding levels between the two bills.

NAEVR has prepared a chart comparing the House and Senate bills. Highlights of this include:

  • Salary Cap: The House proposes to reduce it to Executive Level III ($165,300) from EL II ($179,700), which was the level proposed in the Senate bill and that in FY2012 funding.
  • Program Evaluation Transfer: Since the House bill proposes the elimination of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), it would eliminate the program evaluation transfer that all Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) agencies pay, which is currently 2.5 percent of their budgets. The Senate bill does not eliminate AHRQ and maintains the transfer at 2.5 percent, rejecting the President’s proposal to increase it to 3.2 percent.
  • NCATS/CAN: The House bill reduces funding for NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) by funding its Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) at $10 million versus $40 million as in the Senate bill. CAN may only be funded “after NIH publishes a Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments with respect to a rule to ensure that all programs, projects, and activities of NCATS do not create duplication, redundancy, or competition with industry.” The House also specifies funding for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program within NCATS at $487.7 million (amount not specified in Senate bill) and states that changes cannot be made to the CTSA program until Institute of Medicine (IOM) review of NIH changes to its clinical trials programs, per previous IOM recommendations.
  • Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) Program: The House bill funds the IDeA program, which is managed by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) within NIH, at “not less than” $376.4 million, a full $100 million greater than that in the Senate bill. The IDeA program, which provides funding to institutions that typically do not receive NIH funding or do at a very low percent, was the subject of extensive discussion at the Subcommittee’s March 20 hearing.
  • Grants Management: Although the Senate bill was generally silent on grants management issues, the House bill specifies that NIH’s allocation of funds should be 90 percent to extramural activities, 10 percent for intramural activities, and at least 55 percent toward basic science activities. The House bill also precludes NIH from using any funds for “economic research programs, projects, or activities.”

The House bill, which has already been heavily criticized by Democratic leaders since it defunds programs associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminates many other programs, may not be able to secure enough votes to be approved by the House Appropriations Committee-in the FY2012 process, there was only a “Chairman’s Mark” which proposed to increase NIH funding by $1 billion by cutting other programs, specifically ACA implementation. Regardless of the fate of the FY2013 House bill, it will be important in negotiations with the Senate when FY2013 appropriations are finalized, especially due to its higher NEI funding level.