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Representative Markey Asks HHS for Impact of Scheduled BCA Budget Cuts

June 8, 2012—Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a June 7 letter requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide Congress a “detailed account” of how the department plans to apply a 7.8 percent cut required by the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25) effective Jan. 2, 2013, and its expected impact on medical research and other health initiatives.

The letter, addressed to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, expresses concern that the impending sequestration “could stop vital, life-saving research in its tracks,” and that “[h]igh-paying, quality jobs at universities and labs nationwide could be lost.” Citing an expected $2.4 billion loss in the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Rep. Markey notes that “[c]utting off research funding now would be like pulling the plug on the space exploration budget, just days before a scheduled take-off to the moon.” He continues, “Every family is one doctor’s visit away from needing the promise of NIH research.”

In addition to the expected impact on medical research, the letter points out that “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.” The letter also describes potential consequences for the Food and Drug Administration, the low-income heating assistance program, Community Services Block Grants, and student loans.

Sequestration is required because the specially appointed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or “super committee” failed to identify $1.2 trillion in budget savings over nine years, as directed by the BCA [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 2, 2011]. As a result, 2013 will mark the beginning of 10 years of automatic budget cuts for most federal programs unless Congress approves an alternative. In a May 18 memo providing guidance for departments and agencies to develop their FY 2014 budget submissions, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) describes the president’s expectation that “Congress can and must act to avoid the BCA’s sequester on both defense and non-defense spending.”

Rep. Markey’s letter requests that HHS describe the expected mechanisms for applying the cuts (“funding transfers, reprogramming, personnel decisions, and other actions”) and impact analysis by June 30.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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