HHS tells lawmaker automatic budget cuts would have “profound consequences” on department’s ability to protect Americans’ health and safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today released new information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the impending automatic budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act would endanger the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Americans, along with the countless jobs and businesses that support finding cures for some of our most devastating diseases. In its response to Rep. Markey's June query, HHS reports that the automatic budget cuts would have “profound consequences” and “would limit the Departments’ ability to accelerate scientific knowledge and innovation.” Such impacts include deep cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute, the agencies charged with developing the cures and treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism and other diseases. HHS also reports that the Head Start Program, as well as programs that support AIDS patients, the homeless, and substance abuse treatment, would be jeopardized and services made unavailable to Americans who already rely on them.  
“These automatic budget cuts will negatively impact every person in America,” said Rep. Markey. “What is at stake is nothing less than a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s or other diseases that will save our nation trillions in the coming decades. We shouldn’t mortgage our future by cutting crucial research and development programs that are creating and supporting jobs and businesses today. We need to protect the vital programs on which young children and families rely. We could avoid these draconian cuts if Republicans stopped blocking a realistic economic solution that balances spending cuts with new revenue and ensures that billionaires and big oil companies pay their fair share.”  
A copy of HHS’s response to Rep. Markey can be found HERE.
In its response to Rep. Markey, HHS reports:

  • Up to 100,000 children would lose Head Start Services, and 80,000 fewer children would receive child care assistance.
  • 12,150 fewer patients would receive AIDS Drug Assistance Program support.
  • 169,000 fewer Americans would be admitted to substance abuse treatment programs, and 14,200 fewer homeless individuals would receive assistance.
  • 2,300 new research project grants at NIH would be jeopardized, along with 300 fewer grants at the National Cancer Institute.

Federal agencies dedicated to research, health, and community development face a 7.8 percent cut in their budgets on January 1, 2013 as a result of the automatic cuts mandated by the law, but the agency will have some flexibility as to how the cuts are applied.
According to a recent report released by Research!America, the automatic cuts translate into a $3.6 billion loss for medical research in 2013 alone. NIH stands to lose $2.4 billion, an amount equal to half of the entire budget of the National Cancer Institute.

The automatic cuts also threaten to slow drug discovery and drug approval times. The Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for ensuring the safety of our food supply, drugs, and medical devices faces the prospect of a $200 million budget cut.

Seniors also would be gravely impacted by sequestration. Their doctors face a cut in Medicare payments of $11 billion in 2013 alone, making it increasingly harder for doctors to treat Medicare patients, let alone to see new ones.