By a vote of 30-to-22, the House Appropriations Committee approved draft legislation July 12 that extends the current moratorium against the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)'s controversial breast cancer screening recommendations and increases spending for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The measure features a one-year extension (through January 1, 2021) of the current delay in implementing the 2009 USPSTF screening mammography recommendations as they apply to Affordable Care Act coverage and any other laws that reference the recommendations. Language in the bill will help ensure insurance coverage (without deductibles and copays) of annual screening mammograms for women 40 and older by recognizing the older 2002 USPSTF recommendation favoring screening beginning at age 40.
The bill also increases NIH funding by $1.25 billion, raising its overall budget for FY 2019 to $38.3 billion.
The committee’s action signals strong Congressional support for its research programs, according to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.
“NIH is funded at $1.25 billion above last year. I view this as a floor, not a ceiling, for biomedical research funding,” he said during the markup.
The appropriations bill singled out the following NIH research initiatives for multi-million-dollar budget increases:
- $2.25 billion, a $401 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research
- $400 million, a $100 million increase, for the Cancer Moonshot research initiative
- $429 million, a $29 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative
- $437 million, a $147 million increase, for the ‘All of Us’ research initiative
The legislation will now be sent to a joint House-Senate conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate version of the appropriations bill before votes by the full House and Senate and the president’s final review.