In March, we blogged about the congressional attacks on health economics, behavioral research, and other social sciences—a  battle that began last summer when the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over health spending proposed to terminate AHRQ, ban health economics research at NIH, ban all comparative effectiveness research across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and earmarked increased funding for basic science at NIH. Since then, Members of Congress have continued to speak about their intent to redirect funding from “soft sciences” to “hard sciences” such as biomedical research. Should the House ever introduce its 2014 health spending bill, we expect more of the same (more on that here). Fearing that even in the absence of law, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will voluntary phase out health economics and other social sciences in response to opponents’ political cues; Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) has circulated to the U.S. House of Representatives a "Dear Colleague" letter (we have a .pdf here: HealthEconLetter RoybalAllard July2013). The letter, which is addressed to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, reinforces that NIH support of behavioral and social science—especially health economics—is a key component of the agency's mission. At a time when some members of Congress may be questioning NIH support of these disciplines, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard wants Dr. Collins to know that many Members of Congress understand and support the agency's investment in these areas. You Can Help by Asking Your Representative to Sign On Please e-mail or call your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives BEFORE JULY 30 to urge him or her to sign the Roybal-Allard "Dear Colleague" letter to Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, regarding the agency's support of health economics, behavioral research, and other social science.

  • If you do not know who your representative is in the U.S. House of Representatives, you may look it at:
  • We encourage you to use your member's web-based contact form when sending your request. These forms are usually found on each member's home page under "Contact."
  • Draft your own message, or use the sample message below:

I am Dr. ___, your constituent and a health services researcher who works at ____________. I receive support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on…

I am concerned about critical comments and questions some members of Congress have expressed recently about NIH support of behavioral/social science research-- economics research in particular—and how those might influence NIH’s future support of this critical portfolio. NIH’s support of health economics is essential if we are to understand the role that socio-economic status, savings, retirement, and income play in the development and progression of disease and disability.

To reinforce this point, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter on July 24. The "Dear Colleague" letter is directed at NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and conveys support for NIH investment in the behavioral and social sciences--economics research in particular.

The deadline for signatures is July 30, 2013. Responses should be sent to Dr. Debbie Jessup, Legislative Director, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (

I urge you to show your support for NIH support of behavioral/social science research, and health economics in particular, by signing this important letter.

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Blog comments are restricted to AcademyHealth members only. To add comments, please sign-in.