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December 19, 2019

Big wins for research funding, Congress approves deal on funding bills

Congress reached an agreement on the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills that included significant increases for biomedical research programs and other health care programs.
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The following provisions are of particular interest to AGA and the gastroenterology community:

  • NIH. $2.6 billion increase or 6.65% increase over previous levels.
  • Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program. $20 million increase and GI cancers such as liver, stomach, pancreas, esophageal and colorectal are all part of the research portfolio.
  • VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program. $21 million increase or 2.7% increase over previous levels.
  • Medical Device Tax. Repeals the 2.3% tax on medical devices that could impact gastroenterology practice expenses.
  • FDA. $91 million increase over previous levels.
  • Easing Pathway for More Generic Drugs. Includes S.340/H.R. 116, CREATES Act, that would enable generic drug companies to more easily access samples of brand name drugs needed to develop their products and creates a pathway to make it easier for generics to come to market.

Unfortunately, the Medicare screening colonoscopy copay fix was not included in this final package despite our advocacy efforts and we thank our tireless advocates who called on their legislators to include a fix in this package.  We advanced this issue further than we ever have in large part of our advocates and we will continue to push for this fix.

Other issues that Congress did not finish this year include addressing drug costs and surprise billing. There may be opportunities to address these issues next year although it will be challenging given the 2020 elections.

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