Sequestration's Impact on Healthcare Goes Way Beyond Medicare Reimbursement — Could a Cure for Cancer be on the Chopping Block?

Sequestration is a dirty word for many hospitals. The automatic, 2 percent spending cuts to hospitals' reimbursement from the federal government — required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 — put additional pressure on hospitals' already tight margins.

Reduced Medicare payments are the most obvious impact of sequestration on hospitals, but the impact is actually much more devastating.

Sequestration has brought on serious cuts to funding for medical research, effectively stopping certain research efforts at some academic medical centers' (and their affiliated universities). A CNN article from earlier this week illustrated the impact of the cuts on National Institutes of Health-funded research — and the picture the article painted is bleak.

Here are two telling excerpts from the article describing the impact:

"At the University of Chicago, 3 laboratories have closed, costing six medical researchers jobs treating cancer, healing wounds and gastrointestinal problems."

"At Arkansas State University, 30 scientists and researchers have lost or will lose jobs by October."

The article also cites two research programs investigating new HIV treatments and a synthetic version of heparin that are at risk of losing funding.


The NIH was forced to cut $1.6 billion of its budget this fiscal year, and NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, said earlier this year he expects 20,000 researchers and technicians will lose jobs as a result of sequestration cuts, according to the CNN report.

You don't need to scientist to figure out that decreased funding for biomedical research will mean slower treatments and cures for diseases and disorders that plague our population and drive up health costs.

Some argue that the federal government doesn't have an obligation to fund this research in the first place, and while that argument can be made, it doesn't help alleviate the problem that the government did and does fund it; important advancements have been made; and sequestration means important discoveries could be stopped in their tracks and the talented minds running these labs will have few resources (short of private/commercial funding, which comes with a whole different set of bias concerns) in which to continue their potentially groundbreaking, lifesaving work.

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