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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

Flat Funding for NEI Threatens Vision Research and Vision Health

(Washington, DC): Today, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) Executive Director James Jorkasky issued the following statement regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008:

"The flat funding for most Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Eye Institute (NEI), within the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act just passed by Congress, threatens the future of research, especially the opportunity to build upon breakthroughs resulting from past federal investment. The net zero increase for the NEI in FY2008 funding is actually a 3.7 percent decrease when biomedical inflation is factored in, and with the 14 percent loss in purchasing power experienced over the past four funding cycles, represents an almost 18 percent loss in purchasing power since the NIH budget doubling ended in FY2003.

Especially with the aging of the population, a net decrease in federal funding for vision research is particularly devastating. Eye disease and vision impairment costs the United States more than $68 billion annually and reduces productivity, threatens independence, and diminishes quality of life. Failure to adequately fund the NEI jeopardizes the vision health of all Americans.

Although the bill does provide a minimal increase for NIH, primarily for specific initiatives, it still does not match inflation. NAEVR is especially disappointed with the final funding, given that Congress passed a bipartisan-supported conference agreement in early November that provided a $900 million or 3.1 net percent increase for NIH and a $17 million or 2.5 percent increase for the NEI. Unfortunately, this funding level could not be sustained in the appropriations process as a result of a budget spending cap that has essentially frozen domestic spending.

NAEVR wishes to thank the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs—Cong. David Obey in the House and Sen. Tom Harkin in the Senate—for their leadership in championing increases for medical research in the face of competing priorities. On behalf of the vision research community, NAEVR will continue to work with the Congress to emphasize the value message of vision research."

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a nonprofit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR’s goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI), and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR’s Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.