FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
NAEVR RELEASES REQUESTS TO CONGRESS FOR FY2019 NIH/NEI AND DOD’s VISION RESEARCH PROGRAM FUNDING
(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding requests, as it has already been engaged in Capitol Hill advocacy even prior to the February 12 release of the President’s FY2019 budget proposal.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI):
Consistent with its advocacy conducted throughout 2017, NAEVR—on behalf of the community of support for vision research—requests at least $38.4 billion for the NIH, including dedicated funding through the 21st Century Cures Act and in addition to other funding devoted to specific priorities. This funding level would continue a pattern of $2 billion increases for the NIH each year—allowing for meaningful growth above inflation in the base budget—and ensuring that the Innovation Account supplements the base budget as intended by Congress through dedicated funding for specific programs.
Congress has yet to finalize FY2018 —a fifth Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government in FY2018 was passed on February 9 and expires on March 23. That legislation also includes a two-year budget deal to raise both defense and nondefense discretionary funding levels in FY2018 and FY2019. The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed to increase FY2018 NIH funding by $2 billion to $36.1 billion and NEI funding by $26 million to $759 million, and NAEVR has supported that proposed funding which has been made more feasible by Congress raising the budget caps.
NAEVR recognizes that, in 2018, the NEI celebrates the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress as the lead Institute for our nation’s sight-saving and vision-restoring research. The vision community requests FY2019 NEI funding of at least $800 million to continue to restore that commitment to vision research.
NAEVR’s supporting materials include an NEI funding history—which shows that NEI’s enacted funding level of $733 million is just four percent more than the pre-sequester FY2012 funding of $702 million—meaning it has taken five fiscal years for NEI to experience any significant growth in its budget. NAEVR also has a “Why Funding Vision Research is Vital” document that cites incidence and cost data.
Department of Defense (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP):
NAEVR urges Congress to fund the peer reviewed Vision Research Program in Defense appropriations at $20 million in FY2019, an increase of $5 million over the FY2017 enacted level and FY2018 proposed level of $15 million.
In making its request, NAEVR cites a 2017 study by its affiliate educational foundation Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) which estimates that, based on published data from 2000-2017, deployment-related eye injuries and blindness have cost the United States $45.5 billion, with $44.4 billion of that reflecting the present value of a lifetime of long-term benefits, lost wages, and family care.
VRP funding supports research into DOD-identified gaps in knowledge about traumatic eye injury research, including penetrating eye injuries, corneal and retinal injury and protection, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual disorders. Since the VRP was created by Congress in FY2009 appropriations as a result of NAEVR advocacy, it has awarded 77 grants totaling $66.5 million that address DOD’s research gaps.
The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.