July 11, 2024

FY 2025 Labor-HHS Bill Has Implications for Women’s Health and Research Funding 

By Madelyn Adams, SWHR Public Policy and Advocacy Manager

On July 9 the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year (FY) 2025 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) bill report. This report serves as a companion to the spending bill – for which SWHR previously issued a response – providing more detailed guidance to agencies and departments on budget priorities.

Overall, the funding levels proposed in this bill signal an inadequate commitment to investing in the critical research and resources that are necessary for advancing progress towards a healthy population and could have a notable impact on women’s health care and research, particularly at a time when such investments are critically needed.

The spending bill provides $107 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is below the president’s budget request and marks a decrease from FY 2024. Within HHS, $34.1 million is allocated for the HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH), a  $10 million cut from the FY 2024 funding level. As in FY 2024, $200,000 of this funding is dedicated to the Pregnant Women and Lactating Women Advisory Committee “to continue activities within the 2020 Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant and Lactating Women (PRGLAC) Implementation Plan”. While SWHR applauds Congress’s continued support for implementing PRGLAC recommendations, funding cuts to the OWH pose deep concern for women’s health care research and access to care.

According to the report, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive flat funding at $48 billion for FY 2025. Accounting for inflation, flat funding would in essence mean a cut for the agency. Appropriators provide $100 million for the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH). Specifically, the Committee recommends that the Office focus its efforts on research concerning coronary artery disease, lung cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and “conditions and diseases which negatively impact the health of women”. While this funding reflects an increase from the previous fiscal year, it is $54 million below the president’s budget request.

Notably, the report language does allocate funding within NIH based on the proposed framework to restructure NIH from House Energy & Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Therefore, appropriators have indicated that certain funding provisions, such as those to increase by $100 million research for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD), should be split between the “new” National Institute on Dementia and National Institute on Neuroscience and Brain Research.

The bill does not include a line item for the recently created Office of Autoimmune Disease Research, which was established to fund high priority autoimmune disease research, identify emerging areas of innovation, and foster collaboration across the NIH. Investments in the field are crucial for achieving women’s health equity, given that 80% of patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women.

The bill also called for significant funding cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as well as the elimination of funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Some other notable provisions specific to women’s health and SWHR’s policy priorities within the report include:

SWHR commends all efforts to enhance funding and resources for women’s health and public health research. Therefore, SWHR urges members of Congress to invest in the infrastructure necessary to continue the critical advancements in health research and innovation that has been achieved in recent decades. Further, the Society joins its peers in calling for the removal of language that would restructure NIH’s Institutes and Centers without first going through a transparent, bipartisan, and bicameral process that considers input from stakeholders and conducts a thorough review of NIH operations and procedures.

For more information on Labor-HHS funding, the report can be found here, and the full bill text can be found here.

For questions, please reach out to SWHR Chief Advocacy Officer Lindsey Miltenberger.