October 17, 2011

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Automatic cuts gut critical programs

The clock is ticking and the partisan blockheads on the deficit “super committee” continue to insist that it’s their way or no way. The only thing that has gotten bipartisan agreement among committee members is a refusal to compromise. They deny the existence of another point of view. They refuse to accept the possibility that someone other than them could possibly have an acceptable point of view. They think they can bully the other side into accepting their point of view. If they continue—and there is no indication whatsoever that either side will give in to the other—automatic cuts will kick in as of 2013, with half of the $ 1.2 trillion coming from defense and the other half coming from domestic spending.

The automatic cuts would not affect Medicaid spending, but there would be a 2% reduction in Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers, with more severe cuts to other programs. What’s at stake is the federal money that supports HIV patients to pay for their drugs, biomedical research, and various disease outbreaks (foodborne illnesses as well as infectious illnesses).  Most actual first-year automatic cuts will be about 7.8%, dropping each year to 5.5% in 2021. Funds for disease prevention will be all but gutted—with little resistance. President Obama has already caved, saying he is willing to reduce spending on prevention by $3.5 billion over 10 years. Few people, even those in the health professions, appreciate just how big a hit discretionary health programs are going to take.

We are not paying attention, so we are likely to see cuts in areas that really must not be cut, while other areas will get funded because industry lobbyists are paying attention. So this a heads-up: Lobby now and lobby hard for the essentials. The super committee’s decision (or more likely lack of decision) must be made by November 23 and Congress will have until December 23 to approve any deal. Otherwise, we will have automatic cuts – and no possibility of influence (until, of course, the next Congress is voted in).

5 thoughts on “Automatic cuts gut critical programs”

  1. Leah Curtin says:

    I will remind the gentle readers that the ‘blockheads’ on the super-committee are both Republicans and Democrats, and both for and against the health reform legislation passed in 2010. My comments in this case are bi-partisan…but the ‘automatic cuts’ likely to be made in health care are very real.

  2. Anne says:

    Health Insurance reform is no more ‘socialized medicine’ than Medicare! The person who made the comment on October 24 is really a blockhead if she doesn’t know the difference between buying insurance (even if mandated) and government run healthcare services!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Shame on you, Ms. Curtain for calling anyone who’s against socialized medicine a blockhead. If YOU were paying attention, you’d know that your gutless excuse for a leader’s program has already began infiltrating our medical insurance system, raising everyone’s premiums and covering less. Please reevaluate exactly who the real blockheads are.

  4. Ruth says:

    I hope Carole Bryant is wrong — not so much because I support Mr. Obama (although I do)but rather because it bodes ill if the voters think the FEDS will assassinate a president with impunity! The very thoughtis terrible…

  5. carole bryant RN CCRN says:

    Mr obama was elected president based on his ability as a speaker. Nothing else.he was not, nor is he now, presidential material. The “FEDS” run this country, and I suppose obama either sees things teir way, or his assasination will be arrainged.don’t blame the man, its a puppet presidency.

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