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Alliance “Ask” for FY 16 … FY 15 + $200 Million

February 20, 2015

Most years the Alliance waits for the President’s budget request before announcing its “ask.” So it was this year.

Earlier in February, the Alliance welcomed the President’s FY 16 proposal to increase FDA funding by $148 million over FY 15. This includes a solid increase for food safety (+ $110 million), although more can always be put to good use. On the other hand, support for medical products is notably thin, despite a growing workload and a number of new initiatives to implement.

This week, the Alliance determined its “ask” — the foundation of our advocacy efforts. We are requesting that FDA’s FY 16 appropriations include a $200 million increase above the FY 15 levels. FDA’s appropriated funding would go from $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion under the Alliance proposal.

The “ask” is based on the agency’s current workload and planned initiatives. Should legislation pass this year (e.g., some version of the 21st Century Cures or its Senate counterpart), FDA would need additional resources above and beyond our request for a $200 million increase.

How realistic is it that FDA will get a $200 million increase? It’s hard to know because so much of this year’s budget drama has not been written yet. However, regardless of what happens next, it is essential that the Alliance keep telling Congress about FDA’s accomplishments and the predicament (and risks) created by inadequate funding. Without more funds, the FDA mission cannot be fulfilled in FY 16. With the same money, one or more very important things will go undone. If there is less money, then the health and safety of the American people is endangered.

Even while we work for more resources for FDA, “less money” cannot be excluded as a possibility because of the extraordinarily tight budget/spending situation. Appropriations committee staffs have already told us that most subcommittees will have less money to spend in FY 16 than in FY 15. Further, sequestration is again a possibility if Congress cannot fit all discretionary appropriations under the cap of $1.016 trillion. A new OMB report provides the numbers to analyze potential impacts. The actual likelihood of sequestration is hard to guess. It’s part of the unwritten budget drama for 2015.

What can you do to keep an increase — hopefully of $200 million — on the table, regardless of the budget situation. First, your support of the Alliance keeps us going. We are thankful for that. Second, we could use more members, because the size and diversity of our membership always impresses the Hill. Staffers know that no other federal regulatory agency has a stakeholder coalition like ours. So, recruit a new member (or two) if you can. Third, sign-up to participate in our Hill Day meetings on March 18. Fourth, make FDA’s resource needs a part of other meetings you have with the Hill. Meeting with House and Senate leadership are particularly important.

Have other ideas? Please let Ladd or me know. As the budget drama unfolds, FDA is going to need all of our help.

Note: This week’s Analysis and Commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

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