The Endocrine Society praised Congress’ decision to include the Special Diabetes Program and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government that passed today.
The CR included a provision to renew the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) for two years with $300 million in funding each year, a measure the Society has championed for the past year. In addition, the CR will keep the federal government open through March 23 and the bipartisan budget deal raises existing federal spending caps to free of billions of dollars for priority issues, including increasing funding for NIH.
The renewal of SDP will allow the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) to issue research grants to fund type 1 diabetes research for the current fiscal year. The Special Diabetes Program funds type 1 diabetes research as well as education and prevention programs for Alaska Natives and American Indians. Since it was created in 1997, the program has advanced research in islet cell transplantation, beta-cell therapy, treatment for diabetic retinopathy and innovative therapies like the artificial pancreas. In addition, the program has helped prevent and manage type 2 diabetes in the American Indian population, resulting in significant reductions in A1c and amputation rates and improvements in blood pressure and kidney function.
“The renewal of the Special Diabetes Program is key in continuing groundbreaking diabetes research and ensuring the most vulnerable patients with diabetes have access to prevention and education programs,” says Robert Lash, MD, the Society’s chief professional and clinical officer.
Although there has always been bipartisan support for SDP, the program expired October 1 and the Congress provided only a small amount of continuing funding. The Society was worried that without full funding, new research and clinical trials would be delayed or halted this year.
The Society has been a leader in calling for funding the SDP; members and staff met with members of Congress, conducted educational briefings for Congress with NIDDK, sent letters to Congress, and engaged in social media campaigns to highlight the need to renew the program. The Society also worked closely with the leaders of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus to renew SDP alongside the February 8 CR, and the Society was instrumental in recommending language to ensure NIDDK research would not be disrupted this year.
The Society also tirelessly advocated for raising the budget caps, a move that was necessary to achieve any increase in NIH funding. The budget agreement includes a commitment to provide $2 billion for important NIH research over the next two years. This funding is in addition to the funding increase included in the CURES Act.
“The Society is grateful to Congress, particularly the leadership of the Diabetes Caucus, for continuing support for the SDP, NIH research and federally funded health and prevention programs,” Lash said. “These programs play a vital role in promoting the health and well-being of all.”