June 19, 2008

State 11th in U.S. Health Grants: Tax Breaks, Wars Keep Funds From Increasing

By Patricia Anstett, Detroit Free Press

Jun. 19--Michigan's $578 million in federal health grants last year ranked it 11th in the nation, generating 8,687 new jobs that paid an average of $53,942, according to a report released Wednesday.

Families USA, a Washington advocacy group, issued the report to draw attention to the impact of declining federal health grants on state and local economies. Since 2003, contracts and grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have not risen, after 15 years of increases, the organization said.

Tax breaks enacted in the first term of the Bush administration and the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the United States to cut spending on health research, said Ron Pollack, executive director of the organization, in a media telephone briefing. "It is our hope and actual expectation that when a new president comes to town, funding for NIH will go up," Pollack said.

If the federal government increased funding to Michigan by 6.6% -- the amount needed to offset past flat funding and to adjust for inflation -- Michigan would receive $613 million, generating an additional $1.3 billion in business, the report said.

Funding threatens the next generation of scientists, causing young researchers to leave for more lucrative professions, the report added.

Michigan ranked 11th in NIH funding, after California, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Washington, Illinois and Ohio.

The top seven states each received more than $1 billion, of $23 billion awarded in 2007 by the NIH.

Nationwide, the $23 billion generated 350,000 jobs, amounting to $18 billion in wages and $50.5 billion in new business activity, Pollack claimed.

A spokesman for the NIH did not return a call Wednesday for comment on the report.

See the full report at www.familiesusa.org. Contact PATRICIA ANSTETT at [email protected]


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