Newswise — ATLANTA – The American College of Rheumatology today praised Congressional leaders for reaching a spending deal that provides a significant boost in federal funding for medical research.  

As part of the spending deal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive $34 billion for FY2017, a $2 billion funding increase from FY2016. 

“The $2 billion funding boost for the NIH is a victory for the 54 million Americans living with rheumatologic diseases, who put their hope in medical research that produces new and more effective treatment options, and that may one day find cures for their diseases,” said Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, President of the ACR. “At a time when arthritis affects about 1 in 4 U.S. adults, it is vitally important that we invest in scientific discovery that leads to new disease treatments and breakthroughs.” 

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017 also includes funding for research on arthritis topics within the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program, which will be funded at $300 million for FY2017. 

“Arthritis is a leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army and disproportionately affects our service members and veterans, so the ACR is encouraged to see that Congressional leaders continue to see the value of funding medical research on arthritis within the military system,” continued Lakhanpal. “However, more must be done to help our service members living with arthritis. We are hopeful that Congressional leaders will reach bipartisan agreement on the need to create an arthritis-specific Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense – with dedicated funding for arthritis topics – to better meet the care needs of our service members living with arthritis and unlock breakthroughs that will benefit the millions of Americans living with rheumatic diseases.”

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The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation's leading advocacy organization for the rheumatology care community, representing more than 9,500 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, the ACR advocates for high-quality, high-value policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.