NAEVR Submits FY2021 Testimony to Senate Appropriators Requesting $44.7 B in NIH, $875 M in NEI Funding in Addition to COVID-19 Supplemental Funding
(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written testimony to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding.
NAEVR thanked Congress for the total $11.6 billion in NIH funding increases over the past five fiscal years (2016 through 2020), recognizing that it has helped the agency to regain some of the ground lost after years of effectively flat budgets. NAEVR also thanked Congress for the recent bipartisan agreements to provide supplemental NIH appropriations as the healthcare and research community responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. To maximize the country’s ability to develop countermeasures against COVID-19 and sustain the research momentum, NAEVR urged the Subcommittee to appropriate $44.7 billion for NIH, a $3 billion or 7.2 percent increase over the FY2020 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); funding from the Innovation Account established through the 21st Century Cures Act which would supplement NIH’s base budget, as intended, through dedicated funding for specific programs; and support for the next generation of scientists.
NAEVR noted its support for bipartisan proposals to exempt key health programs, such as NIH, from the FY2021 discretionary spending caps, due to the strain that COVID-19 has placed on the research infrastructure. NAEVR also requested that the Subcommittee structure the LHHS bill to facilitate emergency funding, as necessary, to maintain the momentum of research emerging from past NIH investment.
NAEVR urged Congress to appropriate $875 million for NEI, a $51 million or 6.2 percent increase over enacted FY2020. Despite total FY2016-2020 funding increases of $146 million, NEI’s enacted FY2020 budget of $824.1million is just 21 percent greater than the pre-sequester FY2012 budget of $702 million. Averaged over the eight fiscal years, the 2.6 percent annual growth rate is less than the average annual biomedical inflation rate of 2.8 percent, thereby eroding purchasing power, which in FY2019 was below that of FY2012 and equivalent to that in FY2000.
NAEVR also recognized NEI’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic as follows:
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the NEI also faces additional challenges, as both the working age population and students may potentially rely exclusively on electronic communications devices and e-learning platforms into the future. Since increased rates of myopia, dry eye, and eye strain are associated with lengthy exposure to these communications tools, the NEI will play a pivotal role in research that ensures eye health along the continuum of life—and especially as it relates to the vision care that children receive during their developmental years.”
In February, NAEVR supported its NIH/NEI funding requests in House and Senate office visits made during the February 8 ARVO Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) Advocacy Day and the February 26 American Glaucoma Society Advocacy Day.
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.