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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2015
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR ON PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PROPOSED FY2016 BUDGET: NIH/NEI INCREASE ENCOURAGING, BUT STILL DOES NOT REFLECT GROWTH AND BIOMEDICAL INFLATION

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) issued a statement upon the President’s release of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 proposed budget and the supporting Congressional Justifications for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI). The President requests NIH funding at $31.3 billion, a $1 billion or 3.3 percent increase over FY2015 level of $30.3 billion, and NEI funding at $695.2 million, an $18.4 million or 2.7 percent increases over its FY2015 operational net of $676.7 million-but still $7 million below NEI’s FY2012 pre-sequester funding level of $702 million. NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky said:

“NAEVR commends the President for proposing an FY2016 budget that increases discretionary spending—especially nondefense discretionary spending—through a balanced approach to deficit reduction that reflects a new mix of cuts and revenues. As a result, the proposed NIH increase of $1 billion is encouraging for the biomedical research community. However, this 3.3 percent increase is just slightly above the biomedical inflation rate of 2.4 percent, enabling little growth. Regarding NEI, the 2.7 percent increase also leaves no room for growth and still does not restore the remaining $7 million from the FY2013 sequester cut.

NAEVR will urge Congress to improve on the President’s budget request by increasing NIH funding by at least 5 percent to $32 billion and NEI funding to $730 million, reflecting modest growth and an inflationary increase, as both NIH and NEI have lost 22 and 25 percent, respectively, of their purchasing power since FY2003.

Current NEI funding is inadequate, as its FY2015 operational net budget of $676.7 million is still less than 0.5 percent of the $145 billion annual cost of vision disorders—which will rise to $373 billion annually by year 2050, or $717 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. Vision disorders rank fifth highest in direct medical costs, only less than heart disease, cancers, emotional disorders, and pulmonary conditions. The United States faces a major challenge to public health-that from vision loss-especially during this ‘Decade of Vision 2010-2020’ in which the majority of the 78 million Baby Boomers will turn 65 and be at greatest risk of age-related eye disease.

The vision community looks forward to working with Congress in the FY2016 appropriations process to ensure that NEI is adequately funded to meet our nation’s vision health challenges.”

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.