The ‘S’ Word

Sequestration: We don’t want it!

Sequestration refers to automatic budget cuts of about 8.2 percent or more that will occur if Congress cannot reach a compromise on budget cuts. Fifty-one percent of Americans say that across-the-board cuts are not the right way to reduce the deficit. We cannot afford to be complacent about this. If you think it doesn’t matter, or think it won’t affect YOU, you might be sadly mistaken.

Because of the urgency of the issue, I have extracted text from a mailing sent by Mary Wooley, head of Research!America. Speakers at a Research!America event spoke about what’s at stake for everyone who cares about the research enterprise: patient hopes for cures delayed; industries unable to create new jobs and drive innovation because of frustration with U.S. policies and lack of predictability; young scientists becoming discouraged and accepting offers to work in other countries – countries that have made research a clear priority. All of this further burdens our national deficit. We need research to combat the rising cost of health care by delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases.

From Mary Wooley’s email:

First a quick recap of what sequestration means, according to a new
OMB report. Most agencies would be hit with an 8.2% cut – NIH alone
would lose $2.5 billion in 2013! It is still unclear what level of discretion
agency heads would have in carrying out these cuts. Losses at the CDC
would be $464 million, the FDA would lose $318 million, and the NSF
would be cut by $577 million. See one pager with the latest data.

There is an additional dimension to the FDA cut that should be of
significant concern to all advocates for medical progress. Part of the
cut diverts industry-supplied user fees into deficit reduction. Those fees
are paid by industry for the express purpose of ensuring FDA has the
resources to review new medicines and medical devices on a timely basis.

We all need to do our part to make sure the media are covering all the aspects
of the threat of sequestration, making it more evident to all Americans just
what is at stake. We’ve already seen National Journal release an article
about our new polling data. The Atlantic released a story about how
sequester would impact science budgets, citing another recent article from ScienceInsider.

If Americans don’t speak up, decisions will be made that can last lifetimes and cost lives.



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