Congress and the President are currently negotiating to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a combination of austere cuts and tax increases scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of 2013. As negotiations continue, we need Congress to hear your voice to ensure that policymakers do not balance the budget on the backs of children. Many federal programs important to children with childhood cancer and blood disorders may be in jeopardy. See the Take Action section below to read more about how to contact your members of Congress to tell them how budget cuts will affect pediatric hematologists/oncologists and the patients they care for.
Congress is currently discussing legislation to avoid sequestration, automatic budget cuts set to take effect on January 2, 2013. Sequestration was set in motion last year by the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to arrive at a bipartisan plan for deficit reduction. As a result, many discretionary programs are imminently slated to receive significant cuts.
Sequestration would result in devastating 8.2% cuts to many non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Such cuts would include
- National Institutes of Health: $2.4 billion reduction
- NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI): $240 million reduction
- NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI): $395 million reduction
- NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): $103 million reduction
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): $464 million reduction
- CDC National Center for Birth Defects and Development Disabilities: $11 million reduction
- Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Program: $22 million reduction.
Fortunately, Medicaid is exempt from sequestration cuts, but if Congress reaches a deficit reduction deal to avoid sequestration, cuts to Medicaid could be part of such a compromise. This would adversely affect vulnerable populations of children, including those with blood disorders and childhood cancers who may rely on Medicaid for care.
You can take action today by telling your senators and representatives to avoid sequestration and instead pursue a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not disproportionately hurt children. Please call or e-mail your House and Senate members of Congress today.
During your outreach, please feel free to use the following messages:
- As a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, I know firsthand that unfortunately, not all of my young patients will have the chance to become adults. However, every adult was once a child. Investing in child health helps build a strong foundation for life-long health, which saves money and lives.
- Federally funded research is necessary to advance treatment for children with cancer and blood disorders, but unfortunately, such research is targeted for cuts as part of ongoing negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
- Cutting funding for programs that support children is not the answer. In fact, children’s healthcare is not the cost driver of overall healthcare spending. Children under age 18 represent 30% of the total U.S. population, yet healthcare services for infants, children, and young adults are only 12% of total annual healthcare spending.
- Federal budget proposals that add to existing Medicaid cuts at the state level will hurt children. Children with special healthcare needs and children in low-income families rely on Medicaid for care. For many of my patients, without Medicaid, they would be unable to afford insurance to pay for their often costly and ongoing care, and their health and quality of life would suffer as a result.
- I recognize that we are in a difficult economic environment and that tough decisions need to be made. I just urge that as you consider ways to avoid the fiscal cliff, you put children first.
- Thank you for your time.
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