May 9, 2019
House Spending Bill Recognizes Need to Strengthen Health Responses and Research
Once again rejecting proposed cuts to vital domestic and global health programs and research, House appropriators Wednesday approved funding for fiscal year 2020 that demonstrates commitment to tackling critical health challenges and threats at home and abroad.
Including sustained support for infectious diseases and HIV public health efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funding plan responds to the infectious disease impacts of our nation’s opioid crisis with $20 million in CDC funding for an initiative focusing on links between substance use and infections that include hepatitis, HIV and endocarditis. Increased funding provided in the bill for the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, including a $152.2 million in funding to address TB, will be critical to confronting the rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases while also expanding efforts against HIV and hepatitis C. In addition, the bill provides $5 million in new funding to better support the public health workforce. The funding could support student loan repayment to medical professionals, including ID physicians, enrolling in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service to strengthen their recruitment, though the Senate must first pass the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Innovation Act to provide CDC the authority to offer loan repayment.
Importantly, and in keeping with concerns highlighted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the bill includes increased funding to combat antimicrobial resistance, including $173 million for the agency’s Antibiotic Resistance Initiative, that will help states and local communities protect public health by tracking disease-resistant pathogens and preventing their spread. The bill also includes increased funding of $22.75 million for the National Healthcare Safety Network to increase the number of healthcare facilities reporting antibiotic use and reporting data. The committee also allotted $32.5 million in increased resources for the Advanced Molecular Detection program to more rapidly determine if emerging diseases are resistant to first-line treatments. An allocation of $567 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the bill will be important to speeding development of urgently needed new antibiotics to address resistant pathogens. With flat funding for antimicrobial resistance programs at the NIH, however, the House bill does not adequately support the work needed to confront a growing crisis, and IDSA will continue to urge a deeper investment.
The bill includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, adding up to overall funding of $41.1 billion needed to develop new preventive, diagnostic and treatment tools and to support the next generation of researchers. That funding includes $5.808 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and $84.9 million for the Fogarty International Center, important investments toward new infectious disease and HIV diagnostics, treatments, and cures, and strengthened global capacities to respond to infectious diseases. Recognizing the need for continued U.S. leadership against infectious diseases worldwide, the bill provides $513 million for the CDC Center for Global Health. While the bill also increases funding to $123.4 million for Global Health Security efforts, additional resources will be necessary to build international capacities to detect, prevent and respond to infectious diseases where they originate, and to contain them. Confronting public health challenges at home and abroad through dedicated programs and research remains essential to our country’s strength and growth. As the appropriations process moves forward, IDSA will continue to urge Congress to provide robust, sustained funding for infectious disease and HIV priorities.