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NIH, DOE Appear Headed For Small Budget Increases in 2012
 
 
  by David Malakoff and Jocelyn Kaiser on 15 December 2011, 12:21 PM

http://news.sciencemag.org

A fit of Congressional pique is giving researchers their first solid look at 2012 spending levels for two major science agencies-and the news appears to be relatively good for both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science, with both in line to get small increases.

With little notice, the Republican leadership of the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives very early this morning (1 a.m. EST) posted to its Web site details of a $1 trillion package of spending bills that has been the subject of intense year-end negotiations with Senate Democrats.

Senate leaders, however, had refused to sign off on public release of the details of the so-called "omnibus" package-which provides funding for 10 departments and other government agencies-until they had worked out a compromise on a separate bill extending a payroll tax cut. But House Republicans apparently decided to move ahead anyway, releasing details of what appears to be the compromise package in order to allow the House to vote on the omnibus and increase political pressure on Senate Democrats to act.

The standoff could result in a government shutdown if the two bodies aren't able to agree on a final budget by Friday, when the government's current spending authority expires. Few observers, however, expect a shutdown to occur, although the fight could complicate efforts to pass the remaining spending bills. Congress has already approved spending levels for several other departments and agencies.

The numbers included in the package aren't final, and the omnibus package could still be derailed by disagreements over a number of "riders" aimed at blocking environmental regulations, regulating travel to Cuba, and regulating abortion. In addition, House leaders have proposed paying for $8.1 billion in federal disaster aid by imposing a 1.83% across-the-board cut to non-defense spending, which would further reduce science budgets. That proposal, however, is unlikely to be accepted by the Senate, and appears to be part of a larger negotiating strategy.

The numbers included in the House legislation, meanwhile, appear to reflect agreement between House and Senate negotiators.

· NIH would receive a $239 million raise to $30.6 billion-a modest 0.8% increase. (These figures take into account a 0.2% trim to a broader bill that includes NIH.) That is less than the 3.3% boost requested by the Obama Administration and included in an earlier House bill, but more than the slight cut that a Senate panel had previously approved. The bill also follows through on a top priority for NIH Director Francis Collins: It creates a $576 million center aimed at moving basic discoveries into the clinic, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The bill also dismantles NIH's National Center for Research Resources.

· DOE's Office of Science would get a $46 million increase to $4.889 billion, below the Obama Administration's request for $5.4 billion. The department's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy would get $275 million, a major increase over its 2011 level of $179.6 million, but below the Administration's request for $650 million. Renewable energy research funding would remain flat at $1.8 billion, while nuclear power R&D would get a $43 million boost to $769 million. Fossil fuel programs would get an $81 million increase to $534 million.

The funding levels suggests that "there is still fundamental support for science in Congress-all in all we did OK," says Michael Lubell, public affairs chief for the American Physical Society in Washington, D.C. But he warns that the next few years "could be a lot more difficult," as efforts to trim federal spending kick in.

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Health and Human Services - The Department of Health and Human Services receives a total of $69.7 billion in the bill, which is nearly $700 million below the last year's level and $3.4 billion below the President's budget request.

o Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) - The bill funds HRSA at program level of $6.5 billion, which is $41 million below last year's level and $848 million below the budget request. Within this total, Community Health Centers are funded at $1.6 billion - the same as last year's level.

o Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)v - The legislation includes a program level of $6.1 billion for the CDC - an increase of $38 million above last year's level and $269 million below the President's budget request. Within this total, the legislation funds at $80 million the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant - a program proposed for elimination by the President and the Senate that provides funding to states to address critical public health needs.

o National Institutes of Health (NIH) - The bill provides NIH with $30.7 billion in funding, which is $299 million above last year's level and $758 million below the President's request. This bill assumes NIH will support the same number of scientifically meritorious research project grants as last year.

o Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) - The bill funds SAMHSA at a program level of $3.5 billion - $27 million below last year's level and $73 million below the President's budget request. Within this total, the Substance Abuse Block Grant program receives $1.8 billion, an increase of $21 million over last year, and the Mental Health Block Grant receives $461 million, an increase of $41 million over last year.

o Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) - The legislation contains $3.9 billion for CMS Program Management, which is $241 million over last year's level and $517 million below the President's request. Since 2000, the number of CMS beneficiaries (those receiving Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program benefits) has increased by 51% - partially due to an aging U.S. population. The bill attempts to keep pace with the increase in beneficiaries to ensure those who rely on these important programs get the benefits they need.

RYAN WHITE HIV/AIDS PROGRAM

For carrying out title XXVI of the PHS Act with respect to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, $2,326,665,000, of which $1,995,670,000 shall remain available to the Secretary of Health and Human Services through September 30, 2014, for parts A and B of title XXVI of the PHS Act, and of which not less than $900,000,000 shall be for State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs under the authority of section 2616 or 311(c) of such Act: Provided, That in addition to amounts provided herein, $25,000,000 shall be available from amounts available under section 241 of the PHS Act to carry out parts A, B, C, and D of title XXVI of the PHS Act to fund Special Projects of National Significance under section 2691.

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Funding for Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs Largely Maintained by Federal Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Policy Rider Impedes Prevention and Fails to Adequately Address ADAP Wait Lists

"Progress in preventing HIV in the United States will be set back, while little will be done to provide additional care and treatment to people already living with HIV/AIDS in our country," said Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute, commenting on the final Fiscal Year 2012 spending bill to be voted on by Congress today. "This is especially disappointing in light of the optimism expressed by national and global leaders just two weeks ago on World AIDS Day," he continued.

At the insistence of the House of Representatives, the bill would reinstate a federal funding ban of syringe exchange programs, a scientifically proven method to prevent HIV and other blood borne infections, while not increasing drug use. Additionally, the bill would resurrect failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, but only at a minimal level of $5 million.

Despite an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year and over 240,000 people unaware of their infection, funding for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be cut by $10 million. Surprisingly, this cut would be to its school health HIV program. The CDC reports that young people aged 13-29 accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections in 2009.

The bill flat funds the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program except for a $15 million increase, originally proposed by the Senate, for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). The Ryan White Program provides care and treatment to over 550,000 low-income people with HIV/AIDS. According to NASTAD, there are currently 4,155 people in 12 states on ADAP waiting lists and over 445 people in six states who have been disenrolled from the program due to budget constraints and growing enrollment.

On World AIDS Day, President Obama, recognizing the need for additional funding for both care and treatment for low income people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., announced $50 million in additional funds for the Ryan White Program. As part of that announcement, ADAP would receive an additional $35 million. While it is not known yet how the funds will be distributed, taken together, the $50 million in new ADAP money could eliminate the ADAP wait lists if it is distributed to the wait list states.

"We are extremely grateful to both President Obama and the Congress for continuing to recognize the importance of providing medications to people with HIV/AIDS and the serious funding gap for ADAP," commented Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "While it is far from enough to meet the growing need, these increases are a very positive development." According to HRSA data, the number of ADAP clients served nationally has grown an astounding 40 percent from FY07-CY10.

Under the bill, funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health would increase by $299 million.

The final bill, which is a product of negotiation between the House and the Senate, is far better than the one introduced earlier this year by House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg. That bill would have decimated the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program by cutting its budget from $105 million to $20 million, eliminate all Title X spending, and the entire Prevention and Public Health Fund. Additionally it would have prevented implementation of much of the Affordable Care Act.

The bill also includes an across the board 0.189 percent cut, meaning all programs are subject to being cut even further.

The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.

For more information and to become involved in AIDS advocacy work, please contact The AIDS Institute at: (202) 835-8373, or by email at: Info@theaidsinstitute.org or www.TheAIDSInstitute.org

SOURCE The AIDS Institute

 
 
 
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