Advocacy Update

APA's efforts to advocate for substance abuse patients and research

NIH funding increase receives legislative support and the independent review of APA and CIA collusion during the war on terror.

By Mikhail Koffarnus, PhD

NIH funding increase receives legislative support

A recent bill called 21st Century Cures that would increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $8.75 billion over five years received overwhelming support in the House (vote of 344 to 77 in favor). This bill would represent the first substantial increase in the $30 billion budget of NIH in many years. Adjusted for inflation, the NIH budget has effectively decreased by more than 20 percent since 2003. The bill contains a provision to increase funding opportunities for young investigators, with the aim of decreasing the average age that NIH applicants receive their first research grant. The Food and Drug Administration would also receive a budget increase of $550 million, which would go in part toward accelerating the approval process for new drugs. The bill, which is primarily offset by cuts in funding to Medicare and Medicaid, will be considered by the senate this fall. APA testified before congress in April in support of increased NIH funding, and has released fact sheets for each state to show members of congress how NIH and National Science Foundation funding impacts their representatives.

The independent review of APA and CIA collusion during the war on terror

For many years, APA has actively and effectively advocated at the federal level for a number of issues of concern to its membership, with topics including substance abuse, funding for health research, health disparities and more. This advocacy, which is the subject of this recurring column, has been effective due at least in part to APA's reputation as an authority on ethical guidelines and just treatment of at-risk populations. An independent review of APA's involvement in the CIA's interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration's war on terror was recently released by APA after being leaked to The New York Times. The report concludes that links between APA officials and the CIA legitimized interrogation techniques widely considered to be torture. Shortly after the report was released, three senior APA leaders resigned and Stephen Behnke, APA's ethics chief, has been removed from service. At the time of this writing, the full consequences of this report are rapidly developing, but it is clear that APA's role as a effective advocacy organization may be hindered going forward.

A town hall session to discuss the independent review will be held at the APA convention from 3-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8 in Constitution Hall 106, North Building, Level 100, Metro Toronto Convention Centre.