Just a week away from the March 1st deadline, it is looking more and more likely that automatic federal spending cuts known as the “sequester” will go into effect. The cuts, totaling $85 billion in 2013, will affect a wide variety of domestic and defense programs.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) would be spared from budget cuts, but the majority of other healthcare programs would not be. Areas such as medical research, mental health treatment, and new drugs trials could see budget reductions of five percent or more, according to Kaiser Health News.
In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius estimated that the cuts would also result in about 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits in tribal hospitals alone.NPR reports that the letter went on to say that HIV tests done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would decrease by 424,000.
Medicare would also be hit with changes. Beneficiaries would not be subject to benefits cuts, but providers may see a reimbursement decrease of up to two percent.
The White House put out a press release stating that if the sequester takes effect, up to 373,000 mentally ill adults and children could go untreated. You can see the full press release here.
The 2013 cuts are part of a larger package of $1.2 trillion in cuts scheduled to occur over the next decade.