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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Congress Rejects Trump's NIH Cuts, Backs Autism Research

Robert Pear reports at The New York Times that Congres is not only rejecting Trump's proposal to slash NIH funding, but it increasing it.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bipartisan bill last week providing $36.1 billion for the health institutes in the fiscal year that starts next month. Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri and the chairman of the subcommittee responsible for health spending, said it was the third consecutive year in which he had secured a $2 billion increase for the agency, amounting to an increase of about 20 percent over three years.
“The spectacular increase provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee is amazing in the current fiscal environment,” said Anthony J. Mazzaschi, a lobbyist at the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Neither the Senate nor the House paid much attention to the president’s recommendations.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD].—The Committee encourages NIH’s continued funding of ASD research. The estimated lifetime cost of supporting an individual with autism and intellectual disability  is $2,400,000, and the cost of supporting an individual with  autism without intellectual disability is $1,400,000. Based on these estimates, the yearly cost of ASD to the United States is $236,000,000,000. Medicaid covers autism treatments for nearly half of all children with autism and pays for the majority of residential and day programs serving adults with developmental disabilities. NIH-funded research presents an opportunity to mitigate the disabling effects of autism and reduce the Federal costs associated with it in the future for children and adults.

Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD].—The Committee commends NIH for its commitment to the study of ASD recognizing that there are many different subtypes of autism and that the full range of potential treatments, appropriate to each subtype, have not yet been developed. The Committee encourages NIH to explore a collaborative approach to gain a systematic and comprehensive understanding of each subtype, and to translate this understanding to develop individualized treatments. Such an approach would harness
information from academia and industry, as well as individuals and families impacted by ASD. The European Union has a similar integrated research effort underway to focus on this issue, the European Autism Interventions—A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications. The Committee encourages the NIH to explore this approach and provide an update in the fiscal year 2019 CJ [congressional justification]