Thursday, September 10, 2009

My First Response from the Senate

Dear Mr. Rogers:

Thank you for contacting me regarding research and treatment for arthritis. I appreciate hearing from you.

I share your concern for the millions of Americans affected by arthritis, which comprises more than one hundred different rheumatic diseases and conditions. The treatment of arthritis, as well as indirect costs due to lost productivity, cost Americans roughly $128 billion each year. Research to prevent these debilitating and painful diseases and conditions has the potential to both ease patient suffering and lessen the burden on the American health care system.

I have consistently supported funding increases for NIH, including the historic doubling of the NIH budget between fiscal years (FY) 1998 and 2003, which led to considerable progress in our understanding of major diseases and our ability to improve our nation’s health. However, since 2003, flat funding has eroded its purchasing power by 13 percent. As a result, a 2008 Brown University report found that there is a real risk that we will lose aspiring scientists to other industries or overseas, which would be a drain on the economy and scientific advancements.

As you may know, NIH received an additional $8.2 billion in research funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17, 2009. Since this funding was designed to stimulate the economy, it will be used for research projects that can be completed within two years.

In order to ensure that researchers continue to advance science and medical research, NIH must also receive adequate funding for long-term projects. As such, I am pleased that President Obama included over $30.7 billion for NIH in his budget request for FY10, approximately $443 million more than FY09 funding levels, over $530 million for the National Institute of Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and $13.3 million for arthritis prevention and control efforts overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Senate Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, on July 30, 2009, approved President Obama's request for NIH, over $533 million for NIAMS, and the President's request for arthritis-related activities at the CDC in the FY10 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

I am also a cosponsor of S. 984, the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act, which would authorize funding to encourage medical professionals to enter pediatric rheumatology, with the goal of increasing access to specialty care for children with juvenile arthritis. The bill would implement state and community-based arthritis programs to reduce the pain and disability of arthritis through early diagnosis and effective treatment, and authorize resources for research and better disease surveillance. In addition, S. 984 would create an Interagency Coordinating Committee on Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases to facilitate cooperation among federal agencies and increase investment through the development and implementation of a comprehensive National Arthritis Action Plan.

You may also be interested to know that S. 571, the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Research, Cure, and Care Act would expand and intensify research and related NIH activities specifically with respect to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

S.984 and S. 571 were referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), of which I am a member, where they are pending further review.

You can be assured that I will keep your thoughtful comments in mind should S. 984, S. 571, or related legislation be considered by the HELP Committee or the full Senate and as I continue to work to ensure the NIH, the CDC, and related agencies have the resources necessary to conduct important medical and scientific research.

As always, do not hesitate to write, call, or visit my website,, in the future for information regarding this or any other matter.


Jack Reed
United States Senator

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