Legislators laid out a bold agenda to advance the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget and appropriations process. Leadership in the House of Representatives has stated an intention to have all twelve annual spending bills marked up in committee and passed by the House before the August congressional recess. The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bills is currently scheduled for consideration by the subcommittee and full committee in mid-July. When the bill starts to move forward, we will know recommended funding levels for key programs such as CTSAs, IDeA, and RCMI, as well as any instructions from Congress on research priorities and utilization of funding.
The Senate is moving along a slower timeline and plans to markup its appropriations bills just after returning from the August recess. The Senate has been largely preoccupied with negotiating a large infrastructure package with the White House, and bipartisan negotiators appear to have reached a tentative deal. If a package is agreed too, Congress will likely need to advance some of the priorities through the annual appropriations process and a related process known as budget reconciliation.
The Supreme Court once again upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), clearing the latest major legal challenge to the current system of health coverage and access. This action means that Congress is not under pressure to quickly enact a replacement system to serve individuals with rare, chronic, and costly medical conditions. Congress is currently working through a variety of health policy legislative items, including Cures 2.0, drug pricing reform, and Medicare modernization. These efforts will likely now carry over to next year as lawmakers take their time to negotiate key provisions.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the administration has released further guidance related to the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) concept. The new initiative will be housed within the National Institutes of Health and the proposed investment is $6.5 billion over the next three years. In addition to the financial resources, OSTP is also calling for legislative changes so that ARPA-H can operate like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.