On Tuesday, February 9, Dean Gary Raskbob, of the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center College of Public Health and chair of ASPPH, visited with Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), chair of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The panel has jurisdiction over the budgets of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and other health and research accounts and agencies.
Dean Raskob discussed with Chairman Cole the Association’s mission and membership. He thanked the Chairman for the increases he and his colleagues were able to provide NIH, CDC, and HRSA in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill. Dean Raskob also thanked the Chairman for the new tone he has brought to the Subcommittee’s deliberations – civility, engagement, listening, and bringing an open mind to evidence.
Most of the meeting was devoted to discussing ASPPH’s legislative priorities in fiscal year 2017. Dean Raskob highlighted the need for long term sustained support for health and research accounts, noting that institutional investments in research facilities and research faculty and staff are difficult to sustain with funding uncertainty.
Dean Raskob said that ASPPH champions competitive, peer-reviewed programs that advance prevention research, preparedness, and public health workforce training. He specifically discussed the CDC Prevention Research Centers program, the CDC Public Health Preparedness Centers program, the NIH Office of Disease Prevention, and the HRSA Public Health Training Centers program.
Chairman Cole discussed the current legislative environment. The House leadership would like all appropriations bills to be considered by the full House by July. The Labor-HHS-Education has not been passed by the full House in almost ten year and doing so this year will be difficult as well. Chairman Cole did not think that the Administration’s mandatory funding proposals would be approved by the House or Senate. He said that there was broad bipartisan support for both NIH and CDC on the subcommittee and that he was optimistic that common ground could be found to provide increases to both agencies in the final FY 2017 bill.
The meeting concluded with a discussion about the role of cancer prevention in the Cancer Moonshot initiative. Dean Raskob suggested that the role of prevention should be further explored by the subcommittee during its hearings on the initiative.