On September 27, President Trump signed into law (PL 116-59/H.R. 4378) a Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends government funding to November 21, 2019 and also provides a similar short-term extension of several health care programs, including PCORI. However, while Congress did extend the life of the PCOR Trust Fund (which would have expired on September 30th), it did not extend any of the funding mechanisms. This means that PCORI is currently not receiving any FY2020 funds during this short extension.
It is promising that Congress included an extension of PCORI’s Trust Fund in this package, as it signals that it is a priority, but it is critical that Congress eventually provide a long-term reauthorization and extension of PCORI’s three funding mechanisms. This short-term fix does, however, allow PCORI to access a small amount of FY2019 sequestered dollars that would have otherwise been returned to Treasury.
Ideally, Congress will be able to pass a long-term “extenders” package that will provide a lengthy reauthorization and extension of PCORI by the end of the calendar year. However, if Congress is limited to only passing short-term “extenders” tied to the length of CRs, it is critical that Congress include language that doesn’t just extend the life of the PCOR Trust Fund, but also continue the funding mechanisms as well.
PCORI does have plans to support one more limited funding cycle using remaining FY2019 funds, and will continue to work with stakeholders to identify research priorities in anticipation of receiving new and consistent funding for FY2020 and beyond. Until such time as FY2020 funding is provided, PCORI will not fund any new research beyond the recent funding announcement. Depending on the length of time PCORI goes without new funds, PCORI will be forced to consider changes to current programs and operations.