NAEVR Commends House for FY2019 NIH Funding Increase but Expresses Concern About an NEI Increase that is Less Than Inflation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2018
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
[email protected]


NAEVR COMMENDS HOUSE FOR FY2019 NIH FUNDING INCREASE BUT EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT AN NEI INCREASE THAT IS
LESS THAN INFLATION

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research’s (NAEVR) Executive Director James Jorkasky issued a statement after the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 spending bill with a $1.25 billion, or 3.3 percent, increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a $9.2 million, or 1.2 percent, increase for the National Eye Institute (NEI). In its April 26 written testimony to the Subcommittee, NAEVR requested a $2 billion NIH increase and a $28 million NEI increase.

“NAEVR commends the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee for its continued support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with an increase of more than $1 billion in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 spending bill. This is especially significant in light of the inadequate spending allocation that the Subcommittee received.

Despite this proposed overall NIH increase, NAEVR is concerned that Institutes and Centers (I/Cs)—such as the National Eye Institute (NEI)—would receive funding increases that do not keep pace with inflation, primarily due to funding commitments for special initiatives. NAEVR’s concern echoes that of Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who acknowledged in the markup that more than twenty I/Cs would receive increases of 1.2 percent or less.

As NAEVR emphasized in its testimony, even with funding increases enacted by Congress in FY2016 through FY2018, NEI’s budget is still only 10 percent greater than its pre-sequester FY2012 budget—meaning that it averaged a growth rate of only 1.6 percent over those six fiscal years, which is less the average annual biomedical inflation rate of 2.8 percent. Regarding its loss of purchasing power, in terms of Research Project Grants (RPGs)—which for NEI are primarily R01 Investigator-initiated awards—in FY2017 NEI had 130 fewer RPGs than at its high-water mark in FY2004.

Especially in this year when NEI celebrates the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress as the lead Institute for our nation’s vision commitment, Congress must ensure robust NEI funding to address the growing public health challenges of vision loss, as well as to enable the Institute to build upon the past investment in breakthrough sight-saving and vision-restoring research.

NAEVR looks forward to continuing to work with legislators in both chambers towards a bipartisan bill that ensures a robust increase over inflation across NIH I/Cs.”

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.