American Society of Hematology

Congress Faces Tight Budgetary Squeeze for FY 2013

Published on: January 19, 2012

Congressional leaders have returned to Washington and are in the midst of initial planning for the annual spending bills. The process formally begins with the Administration's budget proposal, which is expected February 6 this year. And, despite the fact that appropriations bills in recent years have been largely relegated to end-of-the-year consolidated measures or continuing resolutions, congressional development of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 individual spending bills provides a platform for lawmakers to boost or attack health agency policies and rulemaking.

The FY 2013 measures, which cover spending starting October 1, 2012, are restricted by last year's budget control agreement, which caps spending at $1.047 trillion. Barring a change in the spending formula, major new spending initiatives this year are unlikely. Funding increases for most federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are also unlikely. Further complicating the appropriations process is the fact that FY 2013 spending bills are also subject to $97 billion in sequestration cuts mandated by the failure of last year's Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (commonly referred to as the "Super Committee") to reach agreement on a deficit-reduction proposal.

While programs such as NIH will face sequestration cuts, Medicaid is exempted from sequestration and Medicare cuts are limited to a two percent reduction in provider payments (which would be separate or on top of any potential SGR reduction for 2013). According to an analysis by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norman Dicks (D-WA), the sequestration plan will likely include a 7.8 percent cut for agencies such as NIH. Such a cut at NIH would mean the agency would be able to provide about 2,500 to 2,700 fewer research project grants per year.

Grassroots support for NIH funding will be critical to gaining any traction in the congressional budget process and ensuring that NIH does not receive significant cuts in funding. Please continue to visit the ASH website for updates on the FY 2013 budget process and information about how members can contact their Senators and Representative to generate interest in protecting NIH funding in FY 2013.

back to top