A Unified Hospital-Political Front Against NIH Cuts

The benefits of funding from the National Institutes of Health run from seeding the research that helps cure disease to strengthening the national life sciences sector. The benefits associated with  cutting  NIH funding by 18% or $5.8 billion, as President Donald Trump has proposed in his first budget, are harder to pin down.

Trump’s Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price says the NIH cuts will target “inefficiencies” and “overhead payments” universities, hospitals, and research facilities receive.

But on Thursday, opponents of the cuts – including members of the state’s congressional delegation, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and hospital leaders – attended a forum at Dana Farber Cancer Institute to say the proposed NIH cuts are destructive. The event was hosted by Mayor Walsh and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals (COBTH).

Senator Edward Markey attended along with Representatives Michael Capuano, Katherine Clark, and Joseph Kennedy.  They were joined by the following MHA-member hospital CEOs: Sandra Fenwick (Boston Children’s Hospital); Laurie Glimcher, M.D. (Dana Farber); Elizabeth Nabel, M.D., (Brigham and Women's Hospital); Peter Slavin, M.D. (Massachusetts General Hospital); Peter Healey (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center); Kate Walsh (Boston Medical Center); Michael Wagner, M.D. (Tufts Medical Center); and John Fernandez (Massachusetts Eye and Ear).

The hospital leaders said they would undertake a grassroots campaign to both educate policy makers on all the components of NIH funding (including administrative costs), as well as reach out to peers across the U.S. to urge them to contact their members of Congress. They said that would begin contacting the network of U.S. medical personnel that have either studied or had residencies in the Boston area, in the hope that the effort to save NIH funding can reverberate through the U.S.