FY 2018 omnibus legislation includes funding for ACS priorities
In March, Congress passed and the President signed an omnibus funding bill (H.R. 1625) for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, comprises provisions that support funding for several American College of Surgeons legislative priorities related to cancer research, the opioid epidemic, trauma research, and violence prevention.
An omnibus is a grouping of appropriations-related spending bills, which may contain additional policy proposals as well. This most recent omnibus legislation contained all 12 appropriations proposals necessary to fund the government for the remainder of FY 2018, which ends September 30, 2018.
With the FY 2018 omnibus, Congress continues its commitment to funding cancer research by appropriating approximately $37 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This $3 billion increase from FY 2017 levels is the largest increase the agency has seen in 15 years.
Additionally, the National Cancer Institute will receive $5.9 billion in funding for FY 2018, including $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act. The ACS and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) have supported and consistently advocated for increased cancer research funding, including through advocacy days on Capitol Hill and grassroots engagement via SurgeonsVoice and social media.
An additional $4 billion in funding has been provided to address the opioid epidemic, including improvements for law enforcement efforts, prevention and treatment, and targeted funding to address at-risk communities.
The ACS has actively advocated for a patient and provider education-focused approach to addressing the opioid epidemic and limiting one-size-fits-all legislative mandates on prescribers. The College’s advocacy efforts in the past year have included facilitating a meeting for Co-Chair of the ACS Patient Education Workgroup, John Daly, MD, FACS, with the Bipartisan Working Group to discuss opioids in 2017, submitting official letters to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and offering input on specific pieces of legislation.
The ACS has supported efforts aimed at injury prevention and at increased funding for trauma research.
The ACS-supported STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act, the Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) Act, and report language related to trauma research and pediatric care were all included in the omnibus package.
The STOP School Violence Act would provide funding for schools to assist in implementing programs that will help students and teachers identify signs of violence before violent acts take place. The Fix NICS Act would help to ensure that the NICS is fully functioning and contains the most accurate data. Enhancing the NICS will help to ensure that firearms do not get in the hands of those who are legally forbidden from possessing them.
Injury prevention measures such as the STOP School Violence Act and Fix NICS Act are important to help reduce acts of violence and to further secure the nation’s schools and communities.
The ACS worked with members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to advocate for trauma research language that was successfully included in the committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Committee Report for FY 2018. Report language is included with legislation to guide the administration and departments in support of the committee’s priorities. The included language stresses the importance of trauma research and encourages the NIH to establish a trauma research agenda to minimize the loss of human life, disability, and injury by ensuring that patient-specific trauma care is based on scientifically validated findings.
The Senate Appropriations report language also recognizes the value of having access to high-quality pediatric trauma care and calls upon the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide a status update on the development of a virtual pediatric trauma center in FY 2019. A virtual pediatric trauma center will provide pediatric patients with access to the spectrum of trauma health care professionals and will help to address some of the geographical shortfalls in pediatric trauma care.