CRD’s Holubowich On Pros/Cons of CURES Innovation Fund

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On June 1, CRD Associates’ Senior Vice President Emily J. Holubowich was quoted extensively in a CQ HealthBeat article about the 21st Century Cures Act’s “Innovation Fund”—a new mandatory funding stream for the National Institutes of Health totaling $10 billion over five years. The bill (HR 6) was passed unanimously by the Energy & Commerce Committee before recess, and is expected on the House floor later this month. Excerpts of Emily’s insights are provided below:

Some medical research proponents say the mandatory money could take the pressure off appropriators to increase the NIH’s annual funding. They’re also nervous that the popular agency could face a cliff when the five years of extra resources come to an end, creating instability.

“With mandatory funding, you have to be careful what you wish for,” said Emily J. Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding.

Holubowich drew comparisons to a controversial mandatory fund in the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) to support prevention and public health programs. The idea was to supplement existing funding, she said, but much of the money was used to replace discretionary money.

The fund also was slashed by Congress to offset a 2012 package (PL 112-96) that blocked cuts to Medicare doctors and tapped by the Obama administration in 2013 to help people enroll in the health insurance exchanges. The health overhaul said the money should boost funding for public health programs above fiscal 2008 levels…

At the same time, other programs in the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill could benefit from the new mandatory NIH money.

The NIH fund could free up more discretionary money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other agencies that fall under the measure if appropriators feel less compelled to funnel money to NIH, said Holubowich.

Without the fund, she said, any increase to the NIH would come at the other agencies’ expense because of the tight allocations prompted by the sequester-level caps on discretionary spending.

A copy of the article is available here (login required): http://www.cq.com/doc/4693498?0

Lisa Ellington

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