Sequester At A Glance: Harmful Impact on Health Care and Research

For Immediate Release:

March 8, 2013

Instead of investing in health care programs and research developments necessary to keep Americans healthy and safe, Republicans have allowed the irresponsible cuts known as sequester to go into effect. If not stopped, these across-the-board cuts could eventually put our country’s health at risk, as thousands of research jobs could be lost, funding cut, and health services for the vulnerable reduced. Here’s a closer look at how the sequester could impact health and research programs over the coming weeks and months:

The Facts:

  • Up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated. This could lead to increased hospitalizations, involvement in the criminal justice system, and homelessness for these individuals. [White House]
  • Approximately 600,000 women and children could be dropped from the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) from March through September, which could put at least 1,600 state and local jobs  at risk. [White House]
  • Close to 8,900 homeless persons with serious mental illness could be denied the vital outreach, treatment, housing, and support they need through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program. [White House]
  • Cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could result in 7,400 fewer patients having access to life saving HIV medications. [White House]
  • Approximately 424,000 fewer HIV tests could be conducted by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state grantees, which could result in increased future HIV transmissions, deaths, and costs in health care.  [White House]
  • The Indian Health Service and Tribal hospitals and clinics could be forced to provide 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits, undermining needed health care in Tribal communities. [White House]

Health Research & Innovation

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could be forced to delay or halt vital scientific projects and make hundreds of fewer research awards.  This could result in several thousand personnel losing their jobs, delayed progress on the prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delayed development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans. [White House]
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) could issue nearly 1,000 fewer research grants and awards, which could impact an estimated 12,000 scientists and students and curtailing critical scientific research. [White House]
  • The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) could face delays in translating new science and technology into regulatory policy and decision-making, resulting in delays in new drug approvals. [White House]
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could conduct 2,100 fewer inspections at domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture food products while USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) could have to furlough all employees for approximately two weeks. [White House]

From the Experts:

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius: “…our efforts to protect the health and enhance the well-being of all Americans, as well as our commitments to grantees, contractors, and state and local governments, would be significantly impacted by the potential sequester.” [Committee on Appropriations, 2/1]

Director of the National Science Foundation Subra Suresh, MS, ScD: “..The required levels of cuts to our programmatic investments would cause a reduction of nearly 1,000 research grants, impacting nearly 12,000 people supported by NSF, including professors, K-12  teachers, graduate students, undergraduates, K-12 students, and technicians.” [Committee on Appropriations, 2/4]

Food and Drug Commissioner Margaret Hamberg, M.D.: “We're going to be struggling with how to really grapple with the cuts of sequestration ... clearly we will be able to provide less of the oversight functions and we won't be able to broaden our reach to new facilities either, so inevitably that increases risk.” [FOX News, 2/28]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH: “Sequestration would impact every CDC program and could increase the risk of disease outbreaks. More than two-thirds of our budget goes out to boots-on-the-ground work at the state and local level to find and stop outbreaks and other health threats.” [CQ, 2/25]

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD: “If lawmakers don’t find a way to blunt the across-the-board cuts, the government’s premier medical research center will lose 6.4 percent of its budget — a cut Collins calls a ‘profound and devastating blow’ for medical research at a time of unprecedented scientific discovery.” [POLITICO, 1/16]

Research! America President and CEO Mary Woolley: “We can’t afford to hamstring our nation’s research enterprise at the expense of new businesses, new jobs, and most importantly, new medical advances.” [The Hill, 5/11]

Ron Kuerbitz, chairman, Kidney Care Partners: “While the ongoing Congressional debate about deficit reduction and Medicare may seem far removed for most Americans, it is an issue that strikes very close to home for one particular group of patients: the approximately half million Americans living with kidney failure (also known as end stage renal disease). ....While providers have thus far learned to “do more with less,” the prospect of additional funding cuts resulting from sequestration and other deficit reduction efforts threatens to undermine the measurable progress made by the kidney care community in recent decades.” [The Hill, 3/5]

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