Senate LHHS Bill and Report Incorporates
Endocrine Society Priorities
The federal appropriations process directs spending for a number of agencies and programs that support Endocrine Society researchers and enable practicing endocrinologists to treat patients more eff ectively. The Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services and Related Agencies (LHHS) are responsible for funding, among other things, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). Many Endocrine Society researchers rely on grants from the NIH to support work towards improving our understanding of human biology and discovering cures for endocrine diseases. The NDPP is a public-private partnership working to “establish local evidence-based lifestyle change programs for people at high risk for type 2 diabetes.” Endocrinologists who treat patients with diabetes have been encouraged by the success of the NDPP and are eager to see the program continue to expand.
Because of the critical importance of the NIH and the NDPP to Endocrine Society members and to public health generally, the Endocrine Society considers federal funding of the NIH and NDPP to be key advocacy priorities. On July 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text and report language for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 LHHS bill. The Senate bill provides significant increases in funding for both the NIH and the NDPP. The Senate proposes to fund the NIH at approximately $30.5 billion, an increase of over $600 million. The NDPP would also receive $15 million, an increase of $5 million. The strong support expressed for these initiatives in the Senate LHHS bill reflects the combined efforts of the Endocrine Society staff , members, and advocacy coalition partners. Society members helped drive these successes by participating in advocacy campaigns to show grassroots support for the NIH. Also, clinicians advocated for increased NDPP funding during the Societys Clinician Hill Day.
Additionally, the Endocrine Society has been working to raise awareness of the importance of considering sex differences as a critical biological variable in preclinical research, where appropriate. To encourage federal agencies to pay more attention to this issue, the Senate LHHS Appropriations report includes language supporting the NIH in efforts to study sex and gender differences in research. Specifically, the Committee commended the NIH “on the recent policy announced to begin assessing sex and gender as important biological variables in pre-clinical trials. Results that are more applicable to one gender may lead to recommendations or conclusions that should, but do not, differentiate between men and women.” The Committee also requested an update in 2016 on progress by the NIH towards implementing the policies.
While the Senate bill and report are important actions taken by the Congress, there is still more work and negotiation that must take place before a final appropriations bill is enacted. At the time this article was written, the likely near-term outcome is that Congress will attempt to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government from the beginning of FY 2015 through mid-November, to give legislators additional time to craft a final appropriations package. As the Congress works towards a final appropriations package for FY 2015, the Society will build on its successes and continue to put pressure on legislators to support Endocrine Society member priorities, such as the NDPP and steady, sustainable increases for the NIH. Additionally, the Society will continue to engage with the NIH and other stakeholders as policies to address sex differences are developed.
— Laakso is the associate director, SciencePolicy, at the Endocrine Society. He canbe reached at email@example.com