President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address on January 28, 2014, calling for a “Year of Action,” in which he emphasized many of his Administration’s priorities for the coming year. This included support for federally funded research, when the president asked Congress to “undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery.”
While the speech did not offer any budgetary details, the recognition that federally funded research and innovation should be strengthened as a national imperative is significant for the Parkinson’s and broader patient-advocacy community. PAN looks forward to hearing more from the Administration and working with Members of Congress and federal agencies, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to help make this statement a reality.
There are a number of other critical debates facing Congress and the Administration in the coming weeks that were not as directly addressed in the State of the Union. In February, Congress will have to tackle the nation’s expiring debt limit, which caps the amount of money the government can spend and borrow, to avoid a potentially disastrous default. Lawmakers are also working on legislation to fundamentally reform how doctors are reimbursed for providing Medicare services – which may also provide an opportunity to repeal the current caps on Medicare therapy services.
Further details of the Administration’s plans for 2014 are expected to be released in President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget proposal on March 4, 2014. PAN will be watching closely for the funding recommendations for medical research at the NIH, as well as the Administration’s continued commitment to the BRAIN Initiative, which was first launched almost one year ago. Congressional appropriators are also beginning to turn their attention to FY 2015 funding. With top level spending already set by the budget agreement passed in December 2013, conversations have already begun about how the funding process will evolve over the next several months.
PAN will actively monitor these ongoing discussions and will reach out when there are timely opportunities for you to engage with your Members of Congress.