Each year, Congress is tasked with passing the federal budget that funds federal departments, agencies, and programs. Through the federal budget cycle, funding levels for agencies and programs important to people living with MS like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the National Institutes of Health are decided—which in turn, impact access to health and other services like respite care and the amount of funding available for MS research. This complex process is supposed to be completed each year by the start of the fiscal year—October 1—but in the recent past, has not been. Congress has instead passed what is known as a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) that maintains or "flat funds" programs to give Congress more time to complete appropriations.
The federal government is currently operating under one of these CRs that is in place through December 16. Over the next few weeks, Congress will be deciding whether to wrap remaining appropriations bills into a large package called an “omnibus” or pass another CR. Whichever path is selected, to help ensure that programs and services for people with MS receive adequate funding, the Society is sending a letter to Congressional leadership and appropriators to recommend robust levels for the following: MS research in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a new program aimed at expediting development of effective drugs called the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN), the Lifespan Respite Care Program that supports family caregivers, and the Social Security Administration. Click here to read the Society’s letter. Funding for another Society priority—the Food and Drug Administration—has already been finalized and fortunately received a $50 million increase over last year’s level.