Proposed Budget Would Cripple Medical Research

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement on President Trump’s preliminary FY2018 budget blueprint, which included a nearly 20 percent cut ($5.8 billion) below current funding levels to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as steep cuts to other agencies within and outside of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

“The unprecedented budget cuts proposed by President Trump for FY 2018 would cripple the nation’s ability to support and deliver the important biomedical research that provides hope to all, including the millions of Americans affected by life-threatening and chronic diseases. Gutting funding for NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and other federal agencies would have a devastating effect on America’s health security.

Slashing the NIH budget by nearly 20 percent would revert the agency’s budget to below FY 2003 funding levels, even without accounting for inflation, and would irreparably harm the ability of the nation’s scientists to develop cures and treatments for all Americans. This is in stark contrast to the strong bipartisan support NIH has received in Congress.

In the last 15 years, NIH-funded research has built the foundation for many of America’s biotechnologies, such as developments in cancer treatments, genomics, and medical diagnostics. Medical research takes years to translate from the bench to the bedside and cannot be turned on and off like a faucet. The proposed cuts would set back progress toward critical advancements that could take decades to regain, prevent new ideas from being explored, and have a chilling effect on those who would potentially enter the biomedical research workforce.

This proposal also would have a negative impact on the American economy. Robust, reliable investment in scientific discovery through NIH creates jobs, strengthens the economy in the near- and long-term, and maintains the U.S.’s global preeminence in medical innovation.

Additionally, to fully realize the benefits of medical research, we need to augment this investment with reliable support for critical agencies across the health care continuum. For example, preserving the unique work of AHRQ is vital to optimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s health care delivery system.

Likewise, eliminating more than $400 million in health professions and nursing training programs would jeopardize efforts to foster a diverse workforce and to enhance culturally competent care for the most vulnerable patients. HRSA’s workforce development and community-based training programs have demonstrated effectiveness in recruiting underrepresented and disadvantaged students and improving the distribution of health care professionals.

The AAMC urges Congress to reject the steep cuts to the broad range of federal health-related programs. We are committed to working with lawmakers to continue advancing robust, sustained growth in federal support for medical and health research, and strong investment in other nondefense discretionary health priorities. National security is a priority for us all, but it cannot be achieved without a commitment to the nation’s health security.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.