President Obama released his budget request for fiscal year 2013 on Feb. 13. The budget request calls for $30.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health, the same amount as fiscal year 2012, including $5.069 billion for the National Cancer institute, a $3 million increase over fiscal year 2012.
"While we thank President Obama for his efforts to maintain funding for NIH in the face of difficult fiscal challenges, we believe that a freeze on biomedical research funding is far from ideal as it represents a cut in inflation-adjusted dollars,” ASCO Government Relations Committee Chair Richard L. Schilsky, MD, said. “This is a crucial time in our ability to make progress against cancer. Federal support for clinical cancer research leads to significant advances in survival and quality of life for cancer patients, and is a source of economic growth in communities around the country."
Under the budget proposal sent to Congress Feb. 13, NIH would plan to increase the number of new grants funded by 8 percent, or 672 grants, for a total of 9,415, institute officials said at a press briefing. To hit that number, continuing grants would be cut by 1 percent and would not receive inflationary increases in future years. Also, NIH plans to add a new level of review for grant applications from investigators who already have $1.5 million in funding.
The overall grant success rate would rise from 18 percent this year to 19 percent in FY 2013. While the number of new grants will increase, the total number of grants funded will drop by 56 to 35,888.
Over the past 10 years, the NIH budget has not kept pace with biomedical inflation. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the NIH budget is 20 percent lower than it was a decade ago.
Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid
The budget also proposes to save $360 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs over a 10-year period. The cuts are intended to move to a system that rewards high-quality medicine. The proposal would modify payments to certain hospitals, post-acute care, and other providers, to address payments that exceed patient care costs. It also reduces Medicare's payments to providers for beneficiaries' non-payment of their deductibles and co-payments. The budget also aligns Medicare drug payment policies with Medicaid policies for low-income beneficiaries.
The budget document also notes that Medicare payments to physicians are determined under a formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate. “This formula has called for reductions in physician payment rates since 2002, which the Congress has consistently overridden for nearly 10 years,” the document states. “Under the SGR, physician payment rates would be reduced by nearly 28 percent later this year. The Administration is committed to working with the Congress to fix the SGR, providing predictable Medicare physician payments that incentivize quality and efficiency in a fiscally responsible way. Failing to do so masks the long-run deficit.”
As congressional committees begin consideration of the FY2012 budget, ASCO will continue to work closely with members of Congress to emphasize the critical need for investments in clinical cancer research and treatment, and access to care