Photo of Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA

Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA

Many in the medical community voiced concerns on Wednesday that President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 is not enough to keep pace with inflation and will limit research advances.

“With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget  for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D. president of the American Heart Association. “Especially when you consider that the NIH has lost more than 20 percent of its purchasing power over the past decade due to medical research inflation. What is basically flat funding will keep the NIH on a downward spiral that will further jeopardize research progress.”

Under the proposed $3.9 trillion overall budget for 2015, only $30.2 billion would go to the NIH for medical research funding, according to documents released by The White House.

“Without sufficient investment in research, cures for prevalent and costly diseases such as heart disease and stroke will be delayed,” Jessup said in a written statement. “This is particularly troubling because as our nation’s population ages, nearly 44 percent of the public is likely to face some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030 – a disturbing projection. Now is not the time to hold back on the NIH funding needed to support lifesaving medical discoveries.”

The President’s overall budget includes a proposed $56 billion for an Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which would provide supplemental funds divided between defense and non-defense discretionary funding, including the NIH, and “help restore our global edge in basic research,” according to a White House summary.

However, the AHA feels Congressional approval of the initiative is highly unlikely.

“While we appreciate the president’s gesture to provide supplemental funding to NIH through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, there is almost no chance Congress will approve the additional support this year. As the annual budget process moves forward, the American Heart Association will continue to advocate for federal funding that will restore the remainder of the sequester cuts and provide for at least modest growth of the NIH’s budget,” the statement reads.

The President’s 2015 budget calls for more funding for pre-school education, tax credits for childless low-income workers and $1 trillion in tax hikes that would apply mainly to corporations and the wealthiest individuals, according to Associated Press reports.

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