Washington, D.C., December 7, 2016 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed the House of Representatives November 30 and the Senate today. The bill’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) Innovation Account allocates an additional $4.8 billion for the NIH over ten years, but is partially offset with a concurrent $3.5 billion cut to the Prevention & Public Health Fund (PPHF):
“We commend Congress for the bipartisan effort it took to pass this important legislation. 21st Century Cures will foster the discovery, development and delivery of life-saving research breakthroughs for the patients and families who need them most.
The association is pleased that the bill contains a much-needed funding boost to the NIH, including $1.8 billion for cancer research, $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, $1.458 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative and $30 million for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells. This additional funding comes at a critical time for research investment in our country. Over the past decade, the NIH budget has not kept pace with medical research inflation, resulting in about a 20 percent loss in the agency’s purchasing power. The support made possible by the Innovation Account will help address that setback.
We are, however, disappointed that none of this new funding will go directly towards cardiovascular disease (CVD) – the No. 1 and most expensive killer of Americans. CVD costs our nation $1 billion a day. With a price tag projected to balloon to more than $1 trillion a year by 2030, it’s safe to say the burden of this deadly disease is only getting worse. NIH-funded research remains our country’s best hope to prevent, diagnose, treat and ultimately cure cardiovascular disease. Yet, heart and stroke research is inexplicably underfunded when compared to the crushing burden these conditions inflict on our country’s health and economy. Currently, just four percent of the NIH budget is dedicated to heart research and a mere one percent goes to stroke. This is simply unacceptable. More research dollars must be devoted to this burdensome disease if we are to save lives, prevent disability and reverse this terrible projection.
Further, the decision to use the PPHF as an offset to partially pay for the funding included in 21st Century Cures is very disappointing. While we are supportive of more funding for the NIH, the Prevention Fund provides critical dollars to secure our nation’s health. The Prevention Fund is an important investment in our public health infrastructure, and deserves support along with increased funding for the NIH. Research and prevention go hand in hand in the fight against heart disease and stroke. By zeroing in on root causes, like tobacco use, high blood pressure and poor nutrition, prevention efforts can help more Americans avoid ever getting cardiovascular disease in the first place. Prevention efforts can even help drive down the cost our nation has to pay to treat this disease that affects one in three Americans. Too many lives depend on the success of both research and prevention initiatives, and it would be a disservice to prop one up while letting the other fall by the wayside. For these reasons and many others, our association believes the Prevention Fund’s unique goal of helping all Americans achieve better health should remain unchanged.
We look forward to working with Congress and the new administration to make NIH-funded heart and stroke research the top priority it needs to be, as well as find ways to ensure the Prevention Fund can continue to make a difference in our nation’s health. Together, we can help America’s patients and their families effectively combat cardiovascular disease and eradicate it from our nation for good.”
Contact: Abbey Dively (202) 785-7905; firstname.lastname@example.org