Because the Congress was unable to reach an agreement on how to reduce the deficit, last Friday, March 1, President Obama issued the order implementing the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as "sequestration."
Under sequestration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget will be cut by $1.6 billion over the next seven months. Last week NIH released its operating plan in the event of sequestration, which states each Institute and Center will determine their approaches to meeting the new budget level; additional details from the Agency are expected in the coming week.
While the impact of these cuts may not be felt all at once or immediately, the harm caused to biomedical research will be devastating – progress toward cures for deadly diseases and efforts to prevent costly chronic conditions will be slowed, jobs will be lost, and America's ability to support a medical research enterprise that is capable of taking full advantage of existing and emerging scientific opportunities will be eroded.
Additionally, under sequestration Medicare providers will receive a two percent payment reduction beginning April 1. Although Medicare patient premiums and benefits are protected, the scheduled reductions would affect payments to doctors and other providers, hospitals, health plans and drug plans.
ASH will continue to urge Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not involve further cuts to biomedical research.
The Society has been recognized for its efforts to protect biomedical research. As a result of ASH on-line advocacy campaigns, more than 2,000 letters from ASH members and patients were sent to Capitol Hill last week. ASH leadership thanks all who have taken time to participate.
PLEASE NOTE: It is not too late to take action if you have not yet done so. Lawmakers need to understand that this is not the time to defund science; this is the time to invest in medical research. However, they will only understand if they hear from you, their constituents. Visit the ASH Advocacy Center today to send a message to your elected representatives about the impact that sequestration will have on the research you do and the patients you treat. If you have already taken action, please share this message with your colleagues and patients.
Links to additional information about sequestration follow:
- ASH Advocacy Campaign
- ASH Advocacy Campaign for Patients
- Statement from ASH President Janis L. Abkowitz, MD, on the Failure of Congress to Avoid the Sequester
- ASH Video, "Act Now: Tell Congress to Stop Further Cuts to Research Funding"
- ASH Video, "Congress: Protect NIH Funding"
- NIH Directors Will Choose Their Institute's Cuts Under Sequester
- NIH Operation Plan in the Event of a Sequestration
- USA TODAY article, "Interest Groups Barrage Congress with Sequester Pleas"
- Wall Street Journal article, "NIH Cuts Began Ahead of Sequester"
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