Sequester Roundup: The Negative Impacts Continue

Another day, and more stories about the harm the sequester is causing our country.  According to a new report by USA Today, these reckless across-the-board cuts are hurting our military as civilian medical personnel are leaving after the uncertainty caused by the sequester furloughs:

Nearly 3,400 military medical workers quit this year in the months when furloughs were threatened or being carried out because of spending cuts known as sequestration. The vast majority of those losses were with Army medical facilities.

“She said departing staffers included highly skilled clinicians, scientists, researchers and other health workers. Eighteen percent were doctors and nurses, her staff says. Medical support assistants, dental assistants, medical records technicians and administrative support personnel also quit or retired.

“It's not possible to know exactly why people quit, but Horoho says she believes much of the exodus was because of uncertainty over when and for how long the furloughs would occur, and whether they will resume next your, along with concerns about plans to downsize the Army in the near-future.”

Our armed services aren't the only ones facing uncertainty and minimized services because of the sequester.  As reported in The Huffington Post, a poll of our nation’s scientists show that the men and women working on the groundbreaking research that protects public health and combat diseases are considering moving abroad due to funding concerns:

New data compiled by a coalition of top scientific and medical research groups show that a large majority of scientists are receiving less federal help than they were three years ago, despite spending far more time writing grants in search of it. Nearly one-fifth of scientists are considering going overseas to continue their research because of the poor funding climate in America.”

“The drying up of resources has had a damaging effect on the research being conducted, forcing scientists to curtail their projects or trim their staffs.”

“According to the survey, 68 percent of respondents said they do not have the funds to expand their research operations; 55 percent said they have a colleague who has lost a job or expects to soon; and 18 percent of respondents said they were considering continuing their careers in another country.”

Sequestration is responsible for much of the damage being done to scientific research. The sweeping federal budget cuts have decreased funding for research and development projects across a wide swath of government agencies by $9.3 billion. The $1.7 billion budget cut to the National Institutes of Health alone has meant more than 700 fewer grants were funded this year, NIH Director Francis Collins told The Huffington Post.”

Not having the staff or funds to help protect our public health is dangerous and we are seeing the impact. POLITICO reports that a recent illness spreading across the United States is facing a slower investigation due to lack of funding:

“Federal authorities are struggling to explain why 600 people in 22 states have fallen ill from a foodborne parasite rarely seen in the United States.”

“But some officials are ready to finger one culprit that has hindered their investigation: the sequester.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had to slash $285 million at a time when food and health experts say disease detection needs more funding as these type of food outbreak cases become more complex and widespread.”

Military doctors, scientific research, public health …the list just keeps growing. Perhaps these latest revelations will push the Republican to leadership into action to stop the sequester and replace it with a balanced alternative. Time is of the essence. Here's to hoping.