Urging Congress to Fund the NIH in FY2020 at a Level of at Least $41.6 Billion and the NEI at a Level of $850 Million

February 5, 2019
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
[email protected]


(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding requests, as it has already been engaged in Capitol Hill advocacy to secure champions in the new 116th Congress. To facilitate FY 2020 funding, NAEVR also urges Congress to pass a bipartisan budget deal to raise FY2020 and 2021 Budget Control Act caps for critical non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which includes medical research.

On February 8, NAEVR will host an Advocacy Day for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's (ARVO) Annual Meeting Planning Committee in which the advocates will urge support for these positions in Congressional delegation office visits.

Request: FY2020 National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of at least $41.6 billion and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding of $850 million:

The vision community recognizes and thanks Congress for the NIH/NEI funding increases from FY2016 through 2019, including $9 billion for NIH and $120 million for NEI in this timeframe. This has helped NIH/NEI to regain lost ground after years of effectively flat budgets.

The vision community urges Congress to appropriate at least $41.6 billion for NIH, a $2.5 billion or 6.4 percent increase over program level funding in FY2019. This increase would allow for meaningful growth above inflation in the base budget to support promising science across all Institutes and Centers, as well as to ensure that funding from the Innovation Account established by 21st Century Cures Act would supplement NIH's base budget, as intended, through dedicated funding for specific programs.

The vision community urges Congress to appropriate at least $850 million for NEI, a $53 million or 6.4 percent increase over FY2019. The NEI, which just concluded the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress, is the world leader in sight-saving and vision-restoring research. Without adequate funding, it may not be able to train the next generation of vision scientists.

Despite recent increases, NEI's FY2019 enacted funding of $797 million is just 14 percent greater than the pre-sequester FY2012 funding 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.

Request: Department of Defense (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) funding at $20 million:

NAEVR urges Congress to fund the peer-reviewed Vision Research Program in Defense appropriations at $20 million in FY2020, the same level as in FY2019, which reflected a $5 million increase over FY2018.

In making its request, NAEVR cites a 2018 update by affiliate educational foundation Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) of NAEVR's 2012 Cost of Military Eye Injury study. AEVR's 2018 update, which is based on published data from 2000-2017 on combat-related eye injuries, projects the total cost to the economy of $41.5 billion over that timeframe, with $40.2 billion of that reflecting the present value of a lifetime of long-term benefits, lost wages, and family care. The AEVR study has been published in the January 2019 edition of Military Medicine journal, currently available on the journal's Web site in the Advanced Articles section.

The FY2020 issue of the Independent Budget (IB) a biennial set of recommendations to Congress regarding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding which is developed by Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and supported by 24 other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), including NAEVR has once again called for dedicated funding for vision trauma research at the Department of Defense (DOD). For FY2020, the IB recommends VRP funding at $20 million.

VRP funding supports research into DOD-identified gaps in knowledge about traumatic eye injury research, including penetrating eye injuries, corneal and retinal injury and protection, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual disorders. Since the VRP was created by Congress in FY2009 appropriations as a result of NAEVR advocacy, it has awarded 85 grants totaling $85 million that address DOD's research gaps.

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.