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Ups and downs for health research.

The administration's fiscal year 1986 budget proposes continued health for some biomedical research activities and amputation for others. While promising the maintenance of "a strong national health research capability," the budget calls for a $290 million cut in the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) budget, a net gain of $4 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a $16 million drop for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which includes an $8 million loss for occupational safety and health.

The NIH budget proposal presumes that a novel bit of bookkeeping the administration has planned will be allowed to stand--allocating approved FY 1985 dollars for expenditure in 1986 and 1987 by funding some grants for three years. Pushing "hard" money appropriated in one year into the future is apparently a funding first. Says one staffer on the Senate Health and Human Services subcommittee, "If it isn't illegal it's on the cusp of being illegal." Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D.-Calif.) has introduced a House resolution that directs NIH to use its FY '85 money as initially intended.

The total proposed reduction in NIH's budget is from a $5.14 billion obligation to $4.85 billion; research activities would drop from $2.79 billion to $2.61 billion. Research trainees would be spared the ax, their numbers holding steady at 9,900.

Usually a new one-year grant carries the promise of funding for the next two years anyway, so a three-year commitment wouldn't change much for the recipients. Congress okayed 6,500 first-year grants for FY '85, a jump from the level of around 5,000 that has been maintained sinced 1980. NIH has thus far funded about 2,000 grants in FY '85; the President hopes to move $203 million from the remaining pool (and $35 million from research centers) into 1986 and 1987, dropping the grant number back down.

Reaction from the research community has been, not unexpectedly, negative. What Congress will do with the FY '86 budget depends on whether it lets stand the FY '85 change.

FDA's $4 million gain from its $410 million ceiling in 1985 won't cost the taxpayers if plans to initiate users' fees go through. Under the President's plan pharmaceutical companies will have to pay to apply for new drug approvals. CDC's budget also calls for users' fees, with the anticipated generation of $1 million collected for laboratory certification.

AIDS research fares well in the proposed budget, with plans for an $86 million expenditure in 1986.
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Title Annotation:1986 federal budget
Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 9, 1985
Words:414
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