Congress Passes FY 2017 Funding with $2 Billion NIH Increase

By April 27, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed legislation to keep the government funded through September 30, 2017 and it included a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This was one of the Endocrine Society’s top advocacy priorities as grant funding for our member researchers was at stake. The bill also included an increase for the National Diabetes Prevention Program, for which we advocated. We visited congressional offices, we had our members call their representatives and senators, and we employed a lot of social media. We want to thank the hundreds of Society members who took action on our online advocacy campaign – our most successful one to date.

This is a big victory for us! The Society’s Government & Public Affairs Department has prepared a summary of the bill below:

Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Summary

The FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill includes a full year appropriation (through September 30, 2017) for all government agencies except the Department of Veterans Affairs (which was previously funded) at an overall level of $1.070 trillion. Although our priority program areas were initially threatened with significant cuts, the final bill included $34.08 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 6.2% increase, and $22 million, a 12.5% increase, for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). In addition to the specific funding levels for programs, the omnibus appropriations bill was accompanied by language with instructions to federal agencies about certain policies. The following is a list of significant funding and language relevant to Endocrine Society priorities.

National Institutes of Health

The omnibus bill provides NIH with a $2 billion increase over FY 2016 funding, however, some of the funds are dedicated to specific research areas, for instance: $352 million in funds are specifically for those projects related to the 21st Century Cures Act; the BRAIN initiative, the Precision Medicine Initiative, antibiotic resistance, and the Cancer Moonshot. Another $152 million was allocated to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to fund research on the Zika virus, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) received an additional $400 million for research efforts related to Alzheimer’s disease. Funds for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards were increased to slightly over $516 million, and the Congress directed NCATS to maintain the same number of CTSAs in FY 2017. Funding for the Institutional Development Awards were increased to just over $333 million.

The NIH is expected to: support an increase in the number of new and competing Research Project Grants, support a consistent- NIH-wide inflationary policy across all institutes, continue its focus on emerging investigators and first-time renewals of young investigators with actions to significantly reduce the average age of an NIH-supported new investigator, and provide an update in the FY2018 budget request on how the NIH is implementing changes to ensure that new policies to balance gender and sex in clinical and pre-clinical research are in place.

Diabetes

The NDPP received an increase of $2.5 million to bring total funding for the program to $22.5 million. The Senate report further requested an update in FY 2018 on the feasibility of establishing a certification process for NDPP providers within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also received a total of $72 million for the diabetes division, and the agreement supports CMS’ expansion of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program beginning in January 2018 to improve health outcomes and reduce diabetes-related healthcare costs. The total increase in diabetes prevention and control efforts amount to $185 million, with the expectation that the increase will to go to communities with the highest burden of disease to support scientifically validated risk factor reduction measures. Of note, the bill did not include funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which we expect to be attached to legislation later this year.

Medicare Physician Payment

In addition to the Senate request for an update on the feasibility of establishing a certification process for NDPP providers in FY 2018, the House and Senate reports requested an update on planned or on-going research related to Evaluation and Management (E&M) Codes. The Senate specifically encouraged CMS to use these findings to develop new outpatient service codes and the associated documentation requirements, and then revise the other evaluation and management code families, with an update on progress in 2018.

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