Groups Seeking Funds in Health Reform

With all the anticipation about health reform happening soon, many groups are expecting increased Federal funding for different things, e.g. electronic medical records, expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid (or at least great funding assistance to States), more emphasis on personalized medicine, more resources for FDA to help them with their expanding domestic and international responsibilities, closing the donut hole in the Medicare outpatient prescription drug benefit, fixing Medicare’s physician payment formula, etc.

Another area looking for increased emphasis and funding – both as part of health reform and economic/jobs stimulus – are biomedical researchers.  The Boston Globe and Mass High Tech had articles last week describing how the Massachusetts Life Sciences Collaborative is lobbying for more NIH grant money.  The reason for this being particularly important for Massachusetts is the state’s leadership in receiving NIH funding, receiving NIH funding of $344 per resident in 2007.  The Boston Globe’s on-line article contains these numbers, but the print edition also had a great graphic – the data from which is in the chart below:

NIH State Funding 2007 Source: Boston Globe/National Institutes of Health.  “Note: Data is preliminary and excludes some research contracts.”

NIH supporters were successful in doubling the NIH budget over 5 years, (from ~$13B to ~$27B from FY1998-2003), and this resulted in a significant increase in the number of researcher grants and the likelihood of grants proposals being funded. However, since then, the increases have not been as significant – See chart below:

NIH Funding 1993-2008
Source: National Institutes of Health (Years are Federal Fiscal Years)

The challenge of the new Congress and Administration will be to allocate dollars for both the stimulus package and health reform to have the greatest effect in the shortest amount of time.  Fortunately, the last Congress deferred many funding decisions e.g., the SCHIP program authorization expires in March, and the Continuing Appropriations law (PL 110-329) funds large parts of the government – including the NIH – until March 6, 2009.  Therefore, this Congress will need to – and have the “opportunity” – to address many funding issues sooner rather than later.

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