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Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Spending Bill Includes Increases for Research and Many Important Programs

December 16, 2015

UPDATE: The U.S. House of Representatives passed by a margin of 316 to 113 votes on Friday,December 18th. That same day, the Senate passed the omnibus bill by a margin of 65 to 33 and President Obama signed the bill into law.

On December 16, Congress released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending bill that will fund the federal government and its programs, research and services through next September 30. MS activists have had significant impact on this bill, with MS research funding and several other programs important to people affected by MS receiving notable increases. While the bill still has to be voted on by both the House of Representatives and Senate, it is expected to be passed and signed by the President within the next few days.

In terms of MS research funding, the bill provides a 20% increase for the MS Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP)—for a total of $6 million in FY 2016. The CDMRP is a peer-reviewed program that funds important innovative research. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is slated to receive $32.1 billion, which is a $2 billion increase over last year. The NIH is the country’s premier institution for health research and the single largest source of funding for MS research projects in the world, with the Society often acting as a co-financer of NIH projects. The past few years, funding for the CDMRP and NIH has largely been flat, so these increases are a true victory that will help us stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost and end MS forever.

The bill also provides a $1 million increase for the Lifespan Respite Care Program—for a total of $3.36 million. This program helps states better coordinate and deliver quality respite services to our nation’s family caregivers, including those helping loved ones with MS. The Social Security Administration’s administrative budget—which is vital to helping process disability benefits—will be funded at $12.16 billion, slightly over last year’s $11.81 billion. And finally, the Food and Drug Administration which reviews and approves drugs and medical devices will receive $2.72 billion, slightly over last year’s $2.6 billion.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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