Today, the White House submitted a FY 2018 budget blueprint to Congress that includes deep cuts to medical research. The budget blueprint is non-binding and subject to the budget resolution and appropriations process in Congress. Yet, if the Administration’s version of the budget — or its portion related to funding of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — were to be enacted, it would result in a nearly 20 percent cut ($5.8 billion) to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) total budget and, likely, a corresponding $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This would reverse NIH and NCI funding back to FY 2002 levels, and when accounting for inflation would cut NIH back to FY 2000 spending levels. The NIH — via the NCI and other institutes like the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) — is the largest funder of brain tumor and cancer research in the world.
National Brain Tumor Society’s Chief Executive Officer, David F. Arons, JD, released the following statement in response to the president’s proposed budget:
“Though non-binding, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is disappointed by the proposed reduction in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the budget blueprint the Administration has submitted to Congress. For Americans with devastating, often deadly, and difficult-to-treat illnesses like brain tumors, our country should be doubling-down on biomedical research funding, not pulling back. For years the NIH and NCI have been underfunded, with their purchasing power stagnating and evening falling in relation to medical inflation. Yet, beginning with the omnibus spending bill and the budget deal of FY2016, the traditional bipartisan support for these critical agencies was renewed. We saw further encouraging signs in 2016, including bipartisan backing for the 21st Century Cures Act, including funding for the Cancer Moonshot program. Yet, this legislation in no substitute for year-to-year discretionary funding levels that allow the NIH and NCI to capitalize on the significant progress made against brain and other cancers in just the last few years. As many leaders in the cancer research field have intimated, we sit at a ‘historic inflection’ point in the history of the so-called ‘War on Cancer,’ and the opportunities and stakes for making meaningful progress for patients have never been greater.
“That said, we are grateful and encouraged that members of Congress have already spoken out about the importance of keeping NIH funding at healthy levels. It would be a tremendous disappointment if we backed away now from all the gains that have been made and all those that are within reach.”