AAMC Statement on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement on the draft FY 2018 spending bill released today by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS):

“The AAMC appreciates that the subcommittee continues to make investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a key national priority, while we recognize that the impractical discretionary budget caps limit the subcommittee’s ability to invest fully in the broad spectrum of federal agencies that support our national health security.

We are extremely grateful that the bill preserves NIH’s support for facilities and administrative infrastructure that makes research possible at medical schools and teaching hospitals nationwide. We also are encouraged by the nearly $1 billion increase for the NIH budget overall. In addition to providing hope to millions of Americans affected by life-threatening and chronic diseases, medical research is vital to supporting the nation’s economy. As Congress has recognized in recent years under the subcommittee’s leadership, a budget trajectory that exceeds biomedical research inflation is necessary to maintain a thriving research enterprise; however, the strict budget constraints imposed by sequestration prevent the FY 2018 bill from reaching this goal.

We are disappointed that the bill places arbitrary restrictions on research using fetal tissue, undermining the nation’s well-established review system to evaluate the scientific merit and validity of research proposals. The ethical use of fetal tissue is aiding scientists in exploring the fundamental causes of and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, blindness, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and ALS. We will work with lawmakers to preserve Congress’ longstanding support for the merit-based system that has allowed our country to deliver cures to patients and remain a world leader in research and discovery.

Additionally, to fully realize the benefits of medical research, we need to complement investment in NIH with support for agencies across the health care continuum. To that end, we are concerned about cuts to other agencies and programs within HHS, such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s workforce programs. 

The AAMC urges Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to provide relief from unworkable spending caps so that appropriators can fully support our nation’s health security. As the process moves forward, we stand ready to work with Congress to advance these critical priorities that improve health care for all Americans.”

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.