October 15, 2007
FY 2008 funding for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are included in the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill (HR 3043/S 1710). Both bills have cleared the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and are awaiting action by the full House and Senate. Overall, HR 3043/S 1710 allocates $151.1 billion for a broad range of labor, health and education programs. This is $10.2 billion above the President’s FY 2008 request and would erase $3.6 billion in cuts below the current FY 2007 levels.
The Senate bill (S 1710) proposes $1.436 billion for research funding at the NIMH, which is more than $32.4 million above the FY 2007 allocation, and $31 million above the President’s FY 2008 request. The House bill (HR 3043) by contrast proposes $1.425 billion for NIMH. This higher amount in the Senate bill reflects an overall higher allocation for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Overall, the Senate bill boosts NIH funding by more than $1 billion, bringing overall funding levels to just over $29 billion.
It is important to note that between 2003 and 2006, the annual number of new and competing grants across NIH, including NIMH, actually dropped by more than 10%. Congress began to address this downward trend earlier this year when it increased NIH funding by $620 million for the current fiscal year. While these proposed increases for NIH for FY 2008 will restore further cuts to research funding, it is still below the amount needed to bring NIH and NIMH back up to FY 2005 levels, adjusted for medical research inflation (6.7%).
Both the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations bills for FY 2008 restore proposed cuts to SAMHSA and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). Overall, the Senate bill is $39.2 million above current levels for CMHS, while the House bill is $21.9 million above. This includes:
Finally, both the House and Senate bills include restoration of $34 million in reductions in the President’s budget for a range of discretionary programs at CMHS under Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) including state incentives grants, youth violence prevention and elderly services. In the case of state incentive grants, the Administration was proposing to end existing Mental Health Transformation Grants at the end of their two year cycle.
A separate spending bill funding the Justice Department for FY 2008 (S 1745) includes $10 million for programs under the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA, P.L. 108-414). This includes funding for a range of programs including pre-booking diversion, training of law enforcement and post sentence re-entry. NAMI is extremely grateful to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for supporting inclusion of MIOTCRA funding for FY 2008.
While the vast majority of Social Security spending is mandatory, the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill does include administrative spending to cover the cost of implementing entitlement programs such as SSI and SSDI. The Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE) budget is important this year as SSA struggles to cope with an unprecedented backlog in disability claimant appeals. Without a significant increase in the overall LAE, it is estimated that SSA will not be able to make progress in clearing this backlog. It is estimated that 738,000 cases are awaiting hearings, with an average waiting time of 505 days.
For FY 2008, the Senate bill allocates $9.721 million for SSA’s LAE. This includes a $125 million increase directed to clearing the current backlog in disability claims. By contrast, the House bill includes an LAE that is $100 million above the President’s request and $401 million (4.3%) above the FY 2007 level. While these increases are long overdue, it is unclear whether or not these increases will be sufficient to address the current backlog.