AOTA remains vigilant in its pursuit to improve and expand recognition and support for rehabilitation research across the federal government. The unveiling of the Blue Ribbon Panel Report on Medical Rehabilitation Research in December of 2012 continues to serve as a thorough roadmap for improving the state of rehabilitation science at NIH in our conversations on Capitol Hill and with NIH officials.

This year, AOTA worked closely with its champions Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) as well as with Senate L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin to draft and include appropriations report language in the funding bill’s Committee report.

The Congressional Research Service describes a ‘committee report’ and ‘report language’ in the following way:

When the Senate or House Appropriations Committee reports an appropriations bill to the full Senate or House, respectively, the committee typically publishes a committee report explaining the bill. These reports contain more detailed guidance to departments and agencies than is provided in the accompanying bill - generally referred to as report language.”

Having advocated throughout the year for report language, AOTA was pleased to find it was included in the Senate’s FY 2015 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee bill when it was released last week.


Rehabilitation Research.—The Committee commends the Blue Ribbon Panel on Medical Rehabilitation Research [BRP] for its thorough report and recommendations regarding the best ways to revitalize the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research [NCMRR] and rehabilitation science at NIH. The Committee commends NIH for the decision to dedicate specific and increased funding for NCMRR research and seek new leadership for the Center. The Committee agrees with BRP’s recommendation to elevate the stature of, and emphasis on, medical rehabilitation research at NIH. The Committee believes that, while co-funding is an important method of coordinating rehabilitation research with other ICs, NCMRR should retain its role in awarding and administering research grants. NCMRR must be able to independently address gaps in research left by the other IC’s work and to set new priority areas of innovative work. The Committee urges NCMRR to tie funding to BRP’s definition of rehabilitation research and NCMRR’s Long-Range Research Plan and annual updates. The Committee also urges the Director of NIH to establish and monitor certain benchmarks to assess whether the coordination proposals being implemented are having a positive impact on rehabilitation science at NIH.