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Spending bill boosts NIH medical research by $2 billion

Spending bill boosts NIH medical research by $2 billion
© NIH

The spending bill unveiled early Wednesday morning provides a $2 billion boost to medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while generally staying away from contentious healthcare changes. 

As expected, the bill does not defund Planned Parenthood, a clear deal breaker for Democrats, but an absence that is notable given the prominence of the defunding push in the fall. Republicans did point to a seven percent cut in funding for the United Nations Population Fund, an entity that the Pro-Life Caucus said supports China’s “coercive birth limitation policy.”

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Funding for management and operations of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will remain flat at $3.67 billion. The fact that the agency oversees implementation of ObamaCare means it is often a contentious issue.

But there is an area of bipartisan agreement in the funding boost for NIH, long a priority for both parties. The $32 billion budget next year will be $2 billion above this year’s level, and $1 billion above what President Obama requested in his budget. 

NIH has decried that its budget has been mostly flat over the last decade and has not kept up with inflation. 

Research and disease advocacy groups were already praising the increase. 

The Alzheimer’s Association touted an “unprecedented” $350 million boost in funding for research on the disease, bringing the total research budget to almost $1 billion. 

“Congressional champions from both sides of the aisle have heard the appeals from leading scientists convened by the Alzheimer’s Association and the hundreds of thousands of advocates we have led,” Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement.

“They have answered with a bold, strategic decision to invest in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which is a necessary next step in our country’s journey to end this epidemic.”