How 2013 Federal Budget Cuts Affect Health



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In 2011, the United States spent more than $360 billion on research, according to The Economist, compared to $275 billion by all 27 countries of the European Union.


The US has been a powerhouse of innovation for decades. The government has always dished out big for research of all kinds, like to the National Institutes of Health, which is constantly churning out highly cited research of all kinds, along with findings that alter medical approaches to numerous diseases and conditions.


The Economist reports the NIH will spend more than $1.6 billion less in 2013, due to federal spending cuts. Fewer grants will be given and less support lent to researchers. Even those who already have grants won’t get as much as they thought they were going to get. Critics say this will stifle the production of more effective drugs, drugs that will make life better for Americans.randd


The cuts threaten the development of important new therapies, according to Steven J. Fluharty, senior vice provost for research at the University of Pennsylvania.


“The ability, for instance, to harness your own immune system to fight invading diseases,” Fluharty said in a recent AAAS article. “The promise not just of developing vaccines that reduce the deleterious consequences of disease, but that actually prevent diseases, including cancer vaccines. The enormous potential of induced pluripotent stem cells for regenerating organs that have been damaged by diseases. All of these are the result of funding through the federal agencies and the partnership that drives innovation and discovery in these countries. NIH has been a partner in all of this.”


With its research on various cancers, Alzheimer’s and numerous other illnesses, America is a prominent, if not the most prominent figure in the battle against these illnesses.


R&D in general will take a spending hit of more than $9 billion, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science(AAAS). The MIT Technology Review says this means researchers at universities and national laboratories will see job cuts. They also reported that the National Science Foundation is cutting 1,000 grants this year.


MIT president Rafael Reif abnd former Intel CEO Craig Barrett wrote in a Financial Times editorial piece that slashing R&D is like jettisoning an aircraft engine to improve flying efficiency.


“While R&D accounts for a small share of federal spending, it is disproportionately important in supporting long-term economic growth,” they wrote.


The AAAS reports that most Americans, about 70 percent, support the government funding research and development. Other countries are spending more on R&D.


Beef and Pork


Millions will be cut in food safety programs, which might lead to the closure of meat and poultry plants for a time, according to The shortage of meat will mean increased prices, and food safety might be worse.


And speaking of food, the Meals on Wheels program that assists in feeding the elderly also will face cuts, meaning the elderly will have to find new sources of nutrition.


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