FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FY 2016 Funding Bill Falls Short in Fight Against Hepatitis B and C
NVHR Applauds Modified Language to Support Syringe Services and VA Funding for HCV Treatment But Disappointed with Inadequate Funding Increase
WASHINGTON, D.C., Wednesday, December 16, 2015 – Congress today released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which includes a $2.6 million increase ($34 million total) for the Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - the only agency dedicated to combating all five hepatidites (hepatitis B and C being most common), both domestically and globally. This funding level falls far short of the President’s recommended doubling of spending for DVH in his FY 2016 budget proposal and the $5 million increase recommended by the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
“While we appreciate any increase in funding for viral hepatitis services, Congress has missed an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in addressing a serious and growing epidemic that affects over 5 million Americans and is the leading cause of liver cancer in the country,” said Ryan Clary, Executive Director. “The inadequate funding in this spending bill will harm efforts to identify the majority of people with chronic hepatitis B and C who are not aware of their status and link them to lifesaving care and treatment.”
The spending bill does represent major progress on language allowing for more flexibility in the use of federal funds for syringe services programs – a critical component of comprehensive viral hepatitis prevention. “Syringe services programs are on the front lines of this epidemic, and the need for adequate funding to ensure comprehensive services, sustainability, and geographic coverage is essential. We are extremely gratified to see movement on the issue,” said Christine Rodriguez, Senior Policy Manager.
NVHR also strongly supports and appreciates language in the spending bill funding the treatment of hepatitis C in the VA system at no less than $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, which is $810 million above the President’s request. Our nation’s veterans are disproportionately impacted by hepatitis C and deserve swift access to curative hepatitis C treatment. This investment will result in avoiding future spending on liver transplants, treatment of liver cancer, and other health care costs.
With the World Health Organization setting hepatitis elimination goals for 2030, and the Institute of Medicine exploring a similar United States elimination strategy, it is imperative that Congress provide a meaningful increase in funding in the FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. “Elimination of hepatitis B and C in the United States should be the goal,” said Clary. “NVHR will continue working with our partners to ensure that resources are available to significantly expand viral hepatitis prevention, screening, care, and treatment services.”
About National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR)
The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable is a broad coalition working to fight, and ultimately end, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C epidemics. We seek an aggressive response from policymakers, public health officials, medical and health care providers, the media, and the general public through our advocacy, education, and technical assistance. Please visit us at nvhr.org.
Contact: Christine Rodriguez, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable