PA’s Senator Casey Calls for Strong Commitment to NIH Funding to Support Research That Saves and Improves Lives
April 18, 2019
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) are taking a lead role advocating for federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the 2020 federal budget.
The Senators wrote a letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies about the importance of investing in the NIH. They collected 62 signatures on the letter from Republican, Democrat, and Independent U.S. senators who support the request.
The bipartisan message emphasizes the need to maintain a strong commitment to funding for the NIH as work begins on the 2020 appropriations bills. During 2016, the NIH received its largest funding increase in ten years. And since then, Congress has provided for additional funding through the 21st Century Cures Act, and the letter notes that in fiscal year (FY) 2019, members from both parties agreed to further invest in biomedical breakthroughs beyond the previous year’s levels. In the letter, they noted, “We commend the Appropriators for recognizing the critical role support for the NIH plays in spurring continued discoveries that will save and improve lives. We believe that it is essential to continue this federal support because of the potential health benefits for all Americans and the importance of ensuring that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research.”
The Casey–Burr letter speaks to the role of NIH medical research in not only curing debilitating diseases, but containing the increased health care costs associated with aging baby boomers. The Senators also stress that inadequate funding will discourage young researchers from entering the field and result in the elimination of numerous research projects completely.
According to Casey and Burr, failure to sustain existing NIH funding would threaten the country’s role as a world leader in biomedical research. Others have spoken about the threat to medical schools and the economic ramifications of deep NIH cuts. United for Medical Research reports that during FY 2018, NIH research funding directly and indirectly supported 433,011 jobs across the country and a total economic impact of nearly $74 billion. The report found that during FY 2018, the NIH made 1,810 grants in Pennsylvania with a total economic activity for the state of more than $4.5 billion.