PAA and APC submitted comments in response to the RFI that Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Upton recently issued regarding the creation of ARPA-H within the Cures 2.0 legislation.
With respect to the organizational placement and funding of ARPA-H, we associate ourselves with other research stakeholders in urging Congress to ensure ARPA-H is located and funded separately from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The proposed mission of ARPA-H is very distinct from the basic research mission of the NIH. Therefore, we feel it should reside outside of the NIH. Instead, it should reside within the Department of Health and Human Services as a separate entity. Incorporating ARPA-H within the Department of Health and Human Services would be beneficial and facilitate appropriate coordination of efforts between ARPA-H and other HHS agencies.
With respect to funding for ARPA-H, our organizations do not believe it should come at the expense of sustained, robust increases for the NIH. The creation of ARPA-H should complement, not supplant core NIH funding. Establishing the appropriate firewalls to keep ARPA-H funding distinct from the NIH budget, including working with appropriators to explore alternative, dedicated funding mechanisms to support ARPA-H, will be key to prevent entangling the budgets and missions of the two agencies in ways that may be problematic.
To ensure ARPA-H supports the full spectrum of research—biomedical, behavioral, and social—we support the designation of an entity, and dedicated personnel, within ARPA-H to promote appropriate research opportunities designed for the behavioral and social sciences. The population research community is especially supportive of ARPA-H embracing a research agenda that, for example, prioritizes research on health disparities and inequities and expands funding for population-based, representative surveys. These are areas that we believe ARPA-H should focus on and having experts within the agency who can develop and monitor these research activities is essential.
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