After weeks of careful debate following the passage of a two-year budget agreement, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released details of a spending plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The legislation sets funding levels for agencies and programs across the federal government. Critically important to the Parkinson’s community are the Department of Defense (DoD) Parkinson’s research program, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – all of which are set to receive funding increases over current spending levels.
While not perfect, the measure is a step forward for a number of our federal funding priorities and a direct result of your dedicated and tireless efforts in reaching out to your Members of Congress.
DoD Parkinson’s Research Program
The legislation provides $16 million for the DoD Parkinson’s research program , which identifies and funds research projects that strive to understand how Parkinson’s disease develops and discover new ways to diagnose, prevent, and treat the disease. You did it! This funding level matches PAN’s request for FY 2014 and restores funding lost to sequestration – which is almost unheard of in this funding environment and a true testament to your advocacy work.
Given that defense spending faced a number of difficult choices in final discussions, it is a significant victory for the Parkinson’s community. It is also recognition by Congressional leaders that the program should be a continued priority.
Funding levels for the FDA  are set at $2.55 billion, which restores spending lost to sequestration, plus an additional $91 million. The FDA is the federal agency primarily responsible for evaluating new drugs and medical devices before they can be sold. The legislation also restores $85 million in previously sequestered, privately funded user fees that are paid by companies when they file a new drug or device application. Restoration of these fees, which was the subject of bills introduced in both the House  and Senate  last summer and supported by PAN, is expected to contribute directly to the advancement of new therapies and medical devices – and we thank all of you who took action in 2013 on this important issue.
The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which includes funding for the NIH  and related health programs, is traditionally among the most politically difficult to reach compromise. While NIH did receive a $1 billion boost in funding above current spending levels, its total allocation of $29.9 billion remains just over $700 million less in funding than was available before sequestration.
NIH funding for FY 2014 includes $1.587 billion for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a commitment for continued funding for the BRAIN Initiative , and just under $10 million for the Cures Acceleration Network, which provides funding for initiatives designed to address scientific and technical challenges that impede transitional research.
Overall, the funding level is estimated to allow the NIH to continue all current research programs and begin approximately 385 additional research studies and trials.
It is important to note that while we are disappointed that full funding was not restored to NIH, medical research and health programs were largely spared additional cuts, as much of the savings burden was shifted to education and labor programs.
Due in no small part to your commitment, we were fortunate to see any increase in NIH funding, and your hard work will be needed more than ever this upcoming year.
Congress is working quickly to pass the final spending legislation by the end of the week and set government funding through the end of September, the end of the fiscal year. Congressional leaders and the Administration will then begin turning their attention to FY 2015, which may prove to be even more challenging in terms of setting priorities.
We will follow up with opportunities to engage with your Members of Congress on federal funding priorities for the Parkinson’s community as the debate takes shape for FY 2015.
Date originally posted: January 14, 2014.