CNN: The 10 'fiscal cliff' cuts that could hurt your health

CDC, NIH on the chopping block

If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on the "fiscal cliff" by the end of the year, a series of cuts will affect services provided by 10 federal agencies and organizations that focus on health care.

According to Reuters, Democrats and Republicans at the end of last week "remained far apart" in negotiations for a deal to avoid looming mandated spending reductions under sequestration.

Using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, CNN estimated the impact of the sequester on 10 federal agencies and organizations that contribute to the U.S. health system.

  • CDC: The agency would lose more than $464 million from its overall budget, which could affect its efforts in stopping the spread of disease outbreaks, helping communities protect public health, and reducing the number of HAIs.

  • Department of Homeland Security's Office of Health Affairs: The department—which stands to lose $14 million—is dedicated to protecting Americans from chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear terrorist attacks, and serves as the Homeland Security's authority on all medical and health issues.

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service: The service would see a more than $1 billion cut, which could mean fewer inspectors, fewer inspections, and greater risk of Listeria, botulism, E. coli, and Salmonella in the food supply.

  • Gallaudet University: Deaf and hearing-impaired students attending the university may see a decrease in research related to their health issues if the college's funds are reduced by $10 million, as proposed under an 8.2% budget cut.

  • Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes: This program works in low-income housing to reduce lead poisoning in children and home-related hazards. It stands to lose $10 million.

  • Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program: This not-for-profit organization, which helps pregnant women and children younger than five with health and abuse issues, may lose $30 million. According to CNN, studies have shown that the program reduces crime and incidents of domestic violence, while increasing a family's economic self-sufficiency.

  • Medicare: The federal insurance program could lose $11 billion to sequestration, which the Bipartisan Policy Center's Julie Barnes says could push already-struggling facilities to stop taking Medicare patients or increase charges for privately insured patients

  • NIH: The government research organization could lose $2.5 billion, which would likely affect academic labs and research institutions nationwide.

  • Social Security: The recession increased need for the federal disability insurance provided through this agency, according to CNN. Federal disability insurance alone could lose $241 million in discretionary spending, affecting 8 million beneficiaries who are considered too disabled to work.

  • The Women Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program: This agency—which stands to lose $543 million—helps feed more than 48 million U.S. residents considered at nutritional risk, according to FeedingAmerica.org. In addition, child nutrition programs could be cut by $4 million; Commodity Assistance could be cut by $5 million; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance could be cut by $8 million; and other nutrition programs would see a $11 million cut, CNN reports (Christensen, CNN, 11/30; Felsenthal, Reuters, 12/1).

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