Congress Proposes Huge Spending Cut for Health Programs in FY 2012
House Republican leaders are calling for deep cuts in federal spending that will have an impact on the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) released draft allocations to be used by House subcommittees while drafting their versions of the 12 annual spending bills that fund federal programs and departments. The allocations are based on the limits established by the FY 2012 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 34) and cap discretionary spending at $1.019 trillion, a decrease of $30.4 billion (2.9%) from overall FY 2011 spending levels.
Under the draft House allocations, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee would receive a $17 billion (3.3%) increase to $530 billion. This means the other 11 Appropriations subcommittees would be cut by a total of $47.4 billion (8.8%). The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which establishes annual funding levels for federal public health programs including NIH, would absorb the largest decrease, falling to $139.2 billion, a decrease of $18.2 billion (11.6%). Given these budgetary constraints, it is virtually certain that the House will propose a cut to NIH in FY 2012.
The Appropriations Committee intends to consider the majority of the spending bills by August 5, when the House departs for a month-long recess.
As Congress continues to formulate the FY 2012 budget, the Society encourages all ASH members to visit the ASH Advocacy Center to take action to help influence the budget process and support at least $32 billion in funding for NIH in FY 2012. Senators and representatives need to hear from their constituents about ensuring sustained and predictable funding for NIH in FY 2012. To obtain the latest information about the FY 2012 budget process and its impact on NIH, please visit www.hematology.org.
ASH Submits Comments on Reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate as Congressional Committees Begin Series of Hearings to Examine Possible Replacements
Congress must pass legislation by December 31, 2011, to avert a scheduled physician payment cut of 29 percent caused by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
In May, the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee held the first in a series of hearings to address physician payment. Additional hearings are expected throughout the summer and fall.
Prior to the start of the series of hearings, ASH submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in response to the Committee’s request for proposals to reform the SGR system. ASH expressed its concern that continual threats to reductions to the conversion factor need to be eliminated and recommended that Congress take the following steps:
- Establish a predictable and stable system for updating fees over time to fully and realistically account for the costs of operating a medical practice.
- Address the imbalance in payments for cognitive services compared to procedural services.
- Recognize specialty expertise under the fee schedule and value appropriately.
NIH Announces Research Partnership With Two Nonprofit Organizations to Accelerate Development of Therapies for Rare Blood Cancers
NIH announced a new public-private partnership to expedite the development of therapies for rare blood cancers. The cooperative research and development agreement between NIH and the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is designed to accelerate the development of potential clinical therapies for rare blood cancers. The partnership will allow the groups to stretch their research dollars and share scientific knowledge.
Under the terms of the agreement, the NIH Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Hematology Branch will work with the other entities to conduct clinical proof-ofconcept studies that drug companies can then further develop and market. The collaboration’s first project is a pilot effort under the TRND program that focuses on further development of an existing small-molecule drug used to treat arthritis called auranofin. Auranofin will be evaluated as a treatment for relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), with the goal of accelerating the development of this drug for CLL treatment and completing preclinical through clinical trial studies within two years, at which time an industry partner will be engaged. For more information, please visit www.nih.gov/news/health/may2011/nhgri-25.htm.
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