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Funding and Spending

Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has in the past pushed for decreasing government spending, including funding for science research agencies, Nature News reports. If confirmed by the Senate, Price would oversee the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies.

While Price's views on the Affordable Care Act are known — he has introduced a bill to replace it — Nature News notes that his position on biomedical research funding is a little trickier to tease out. However, it reports that, as a member of the House of Representatives, he voted against an earlier iteration of the 21st Century Cures Act (which is itself up for another vote in the House today) that would have provided $8.75 billion in funding for NIH while also revamping FDA regulations, among other things. He has also voted against regulating tobacco as a drug and against funding the CDC's Public Health and Prevention Fund, it adds, noting that he also opposes embryonic stem cell research.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon by training, also opposes the Cancer Moonshot effort. However, he told Stat News last February that he's "in favor of increasing funding for cancer research" but said that that increase means that cuts have to be made elsewhere.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology's Jennifer Zeitzer tells Nature News that it appears that Price may support science in theory but might have to be convinced to fund it.

"He's a physician, a very smart guy, and understands the value of research, but I question his commitment to invest in it," adds Georges Benjamin from the American Public Health Association.

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