WASHINGTON — The National Institutes of Health would receive a $2 billion increase for the second year in a row under a funding bill that’s expected to be approved by a Senate panel on Tuesday, sources close to the negotiations told STAT on Monday.
The bill, which would provide about $34 billion in funding for the nation’s health programs for the fiscal year starting in October, is the Senate’s attempt to set a continuing pattern of funding federal increases for medical research after more than a decade of stagnant budgets.
The new bill also includes $1.4 billion for Alzheimer’s research — a $400 million increase over this year’s funding — and $300 million for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $100 million, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
The Alzheimer’s funding increase was also disclosed in a statement by the Alzheimer’s Association, which praised the Senate panel for the move.
The bill is a compromise negotiated by Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that funds health programs, and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington.
It follows a similar set of increases Congress passed in December for medical research, which included another $2 billion increase for NIH, the biggest boost the agency had received in 12 years. That legislation, which funds the government through the end of September, also included increases for Alzheimer’s research and precision medicine.
Both Blunt and and his House counterpart, Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, have said they hoped to continue the pattern of funding increases this year to establish a long-term trend, so medical researchers wouldn’t have to worry about their new federal support drying up.
“For the second year in a row the Senate has taken a critical step toward ending the Alzheimer’s epidemic,” Harry Johns, president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement will provide important funding for research that can help bring a way to prevent, treat, or cure this devastating disease.”
The House is expected to work on its funding bill later this summer.