Bush Expected To Request Lower Funding Increases for NIH Because of Budget Deficit
Congress may not meet a request by President Bush that would increase the NIH budget to more than $27 billion for fiscal year 2003 -- double the 1998 level -- as a result of the increased federal budget deficit, and the agency may "only get a tiny raise" under the president's FY 2004 budget proposal, the Wall Street Journal reports (Adams, Wall Street Journal, 1/7). Bush, scheduled to unveil his FY 2004 budget proposal on Feb. 3, plans to request less than a 1% increase for the NIH budget, a "sharp turnaround" from the annual 15% increases that the agency has received in the past few years, the Journal reports. The expected NIH budget request raises concerns from patient and research advocates, who maintain that the agency should receive larger budget increases for research into biomedical advances (McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 1/2). Advocates said that NIH must receive budget increases of at least 8% to 10% per year to "capitalize on the progress being made in biomedical research," the Journal reports. Patient advocates plan to meet later this week to develop a campaign to lobby Congress to approve the FY 2003 request, which would complete a five-year proposal to double the NIH budget, and approve a "sizable funding increase" for FY 2004, the Journal reports. Myrl Weinberg, president of the National Health Council, said, "We find it almost inconceivable that there could be this commitment by the administration and Congress to double the budget and then have these devastating cutbacks." However, some experts said that NIH may not require a large budget increase this year. Rudolph Penner, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said, "No matter how valid the cause, when you get increases of that magnitude, you have to worry about how effectively the extra money can be used. A pause would seem to be very well justified" (Adams, Wall Street Journal, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.