NIH/NIA Appropriations and Authorization Legislation
On Friday December 16, 2011, the House voted 296-121 to adopt the conference report for the Omnibus (H.R. 2055), the 9-bill Omnibus which includes funding for Labor, HHS, Education, and for NIH. On December 17, the Senate also passed the bill. The President signed the bill into law on December 23. The FY2012 Omnibus includes funding for NIH in the amount of $30,689,000,000, which is $299 million above last year’s level and $758 million below the President’s request. This is a $3 million or .27% increase over FY 2011 for NIA. The law also establishes and provides $10 million for the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and Cures Action Network (CAN) (see Director’s Budget Report).
On December 15, 2011, the Senate voted 86-13 to adopt the conference report for H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012. On December 14, 2011, the House adopted the conference report by voice vote of 283-136. Among the many provisions, the National Defense Authorization Act included the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR) reauthorization provisions. The SBIR/STTR provisions will reauthorize the two programs for 6 years and increase SBIR/STTR awards to $150,000 for Phase I and $1 million for Phase II awards. Provisions of particular interest to NIH would increase the SBIR set aside to 3.2 percent over six years and increase the STTR set aside to 0.45 percent over six years; allow small business concerns majority-owned and controlled by venture capital firms to be eligible for up to 25 percent of the SBIR funds; allow agencies to apply for waivers to exceed the hard cap on awards under the guidelines for Phase I and Phase II awards; and grants NIH a one-year exception to the rule shortening the time span for final decisions to not more than 90 days after the date a solicitation closes. The measure has been signed by the President.
Other NIH/NIA Legislative Measures Introduced
On February 2, H.R. 610, Making Investments Now for Dementia Act of 2011 was introduced by U.S. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX). This measure proposes to authorize the issuance of United States bonds to fund Alzheimer's research. H.R. 610 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.
On May 13, Representative Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) introduced H.R. 1897, the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2011. The bill would require the Director of NIH to: (1) coordinate all NIH research activities including the development of a strategic plan for Alzheimer’s disease research; (2) report annually to the Secretary, the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, and the appropriate Committees of jurisdiction in Congress on the strategic research plan and the budget estimates for funding the research in the plan; and (3) submit to the Office of Management and Budget, and the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, as part of the annual budget process, a report including the budget estimates of the activities in the strategic plan, a request for appropriations to fund each research activity identified in the strategic plan, a justification explaining why an appropriation request was not included for any activity in the plan, and an analysis of progress toward accelerating breakthroughs in treatments that would prevent, cure, or slow the progression of the disease and reduce the spending on federally funded programs and families and identifies any remaining hurdles to accelerating such breakthroughs or reducing such financial burden. The bill would also require the Directors of all the NIH Institutes and Centers to fund public private partnerships to develop treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s through innovative approaches to research. H.R. 1897 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.
On May 10, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) introduced a resolution, S. Res. 176, with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) urging the United States Postal Service to issue a semipostal stamp to help raise money for Alzheimer's research. On July 14, Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced companion bill, H.Res.351 in the House of Representatives. Proceeds for the sales of the Alzheimer's stamp would help fund Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health. Both measures are still pending Committee action.
Congressional Briefings and Hearings
On October 18, Dr. Hodes participated in a Congressional briefing to highlight recent scientific research showing the health benefits of exercise and physical activity for older adults. In addition, Dr. Hodes introduced the Go4Life Campaign, and described how NIA is partnering with outside organizations to raise public awareness and to encourage older individuals to increase their physical activity. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) attended the event. Also participating were Dr. Regina Benjamin, Surgeon General; Mr. Robert Hornyak, Acting Director, Center for Policy, Planning and Evaluation, the Administration on Aging; Mr. Jim Whitehead, Executive Director, American College of Sports Medicine; and Mr. Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging.
On December 14, Dr. Hodes participated in a Senate Committee on Aging forum celebrating the Committee’s 50th Anniversary and exploring the future of aging. Dr. Hodes gave an overview of aging research and then participated in a panel discussion with Administration on Aging’s Secretary, Kathy Greenlee; John W Rowe M.D., Professor of Health Policy & Management, Columbia University; John Rother, President and CEO, National Coalition on Health Care; Robert B. Hudson, Professor of Social Policy, Boston University; Mike Harsh, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, GE Healthcare; Robyn I. Stone, DrPH, Executive Director, Institute for the Future of Aging Services (IFAS) at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Washington, DC.
Tamara Jones, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging