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Major Reorganization to Hit the NIH, Deep Cuts to Affect Thousands Under Trump Budget Plan

3/16/2017 6:19:43 AM

Major Reorganization to Hit the NIH, Deep Cuts to Affect Thousands Under Trump Budget Plan March 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON – Federal spending on health and human services takes a major blow under the first federal spending plan proposed by President Donald Trump.

Under the proposal, the Department of Health and Human Services will see a $12.6 billion cut, about 16.2 percent of its budget, the Associated Press reported Wednesday night. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health will see a loss of $5.8 billion, which would cut down on its ability for medical research. The AP said it is not clear what diseases and medical disorders would see the biggest negative financial impact, however the president’s plan “specifically calls for elimination of a division that focuses on global health.”

Under the president’s plan, the NIH would see a reorganization of its 27 institutes and centers. How a reorganization would play out has yet to be determined. The budget would also eliminate the Fogarty International Center which has a mission of building partnerships between health research institutions in the United State and globally, the Washington Post reported.

Approximately 80 percent of the NIH funding is sent to more than 300,000 researchers at institutions in the United States and across the globe. Because grants span multiple years, the Post said the cut the NIH could see under this proposal could prove disruptive to medical research being conducted.

It’s unclear how the funding cut would impact the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act which was signed into law in December by former President Barack Obama. The NIH was set to see an additional $4.8 billion over the next 10 years to fund various programs as a catalyst for growth in research and employment in the biotech industries. The federal legislation was spurred in part by calls for the needs of additional funding for biomedical research, as well as the need to update the approval process for medical innovations. The Cures Act builds on earlier healthcare initiatives pushed by the Obama administration, including the precision medicine initiative and last year’s “moon shot” effort to develop an end to cancer. The new legislation will invest $1.8 billion toward that end. The legislation also invest $1 billion into combating the opioid addiction problem that faces the country.
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The proposed cuts are certainly being met with disapproval from the biotech industry. Benjamin Corb, public affairs director of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Rockville, Maryland, called the $5 billion cut to the NIH unacceptable to the industry and the American people.

“President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 spending plan erases years' worth of bipartisan support for the NIH, and the American biomedical research enterprise which has long been the global leader for biomedical innovation. Cuts this deep threaten America's ability to remain a leader. It is of grave concern to the research community that President Trump's budget proposal—which would fund the agency at a 15-year low—values investments in defense above all other federal expenditures,” Corb said in a statement, according to Science.

The overall NIH budget has not kept pace with inflation, the AP said. The NIH had a budget of about $32 billion in 2016.

Called the America First Budget, much of the funding cuts in HHS and other departments will be used to bolster spending elsewhere, including a $50 billion boost to defense spending.

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