Update: The president signed the FY 2017 budget proposal into law on May 5, 2017.
Earlier this week, Congress reached a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget deal. The federal budget, which must be renewed annually, provides money to many areas of the government, including defense, education, transportation and health. This year, the deal includes increased investments in federal research funding, which is a win for the Parkinson's community. The legislation is expected to be approved by May 5, when the government's current funding levels end.
Of particular importance to the Parkinson's disease (PD) community are provisions in the budget deal impacting the government agencies involved in research and drug development. The PD community has actively advocated for robust and reliable federal funding across each of these agencies. Just this year, people living with PD and their loved ones sent thousands of emails to lawmakers on the topic and, in February, 200 PD advocates conducted meetings on Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers on the importance of federal scientific investments.
Several notable sections of the FY 2017 budget deal are outlined below.
National Institutes of Health (NIH): The package sets FY 2017 funding for NIH at $34 billion, which is $2 billion higher than FY 2016. This is the second year in a row the agency received an increase, making this NIH's first back-to-back spending boost since 2003. After several years of flat funding, these increases reflect Congress' commitment to biomedical research. While all of the research institutes within NIH received additional funding, the National Institute on Aging, a major funder of PD research, received a 28 percent increase.
Included in NIH's additional $2 billion are increases for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. This extra funding was promised as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed last December. Last year, the PD community sent 20,000 emails to lawmakers in support of the act's passage.
Department of Defense (DoD): The DoD Parkinson's Research Program (PRP) is the only government-funded research program specifically dedicated to Parkinson's disease. PRP funding remains steady at $16 million -- the same as it was in FY 2016. The Foundation will continue to push for increased spending for this program.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The bill provides the FDA with $2.8 billion for FY 2017, an increase of $39 million from FY 2016. Under a separate agreement, the fees the FDA collects from industry groups that use its services will be increased to $1 billion beginning in FY 2018. To meet its mission and ensure timely review and approval of new drugs and devices, the FDA has been receiving this supplemental funding since 1993.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The Parkinson's community has long advocated for a national PD registry to better understand how many people are living with the disease, who they are and where they are located. The 21st Century Cures Act authorized the creation of the National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System at the CDC, which will track this information for several neurological diseases. The Cures bill, however, does not allow Congress to begin spending funds on the surveillance system until FY 2018. So while the CDC did receive $7.3 billion in funding for FY 2017, which is $22 million above FY 2016 amounts, this money is not allocated for the registry. The Foundation is working with lawmakers to secure funding for the surveillance system in FY 2018.
As the federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30, the FY 2017 budget deal will expire at the end of September. Congress will soon have to turn its attention to FY 2018 budgeting. Stay tuned to the Foundation's blog for updates on future budget proposals and ways to advocate for Parkinson's research funding in the months ahead.