With just two weeks before major, across-the-board spending cuts go into effect, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released a new report that outlines the devastating impact these cuts would have on medical research, health care, education, and other critical programs in Massachusetts. The budget cuts, known as "sequestration," are mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and will take effect in March unless Congress acts to avert them. George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis estimates that Massachusetts will lose 60,497 jobs from these cuts, with 41,469 coming from defense cuts and 19,028 from non-defense cuts.
In his report, Rep. Markey calls for replacing the misguided cuts with a balanced deficit reduction roadmap that includes a more progressive tax code, targeted cuts to defense spending and nuclear weapons, an end to oil subsidies, and expanding innovative programs in Medicare that improve the quality of health care for beneficiaries.
While sequestration was originally scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013, Congress postponed the beginning of the cuts until March 1st when it passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on New Year's Day 2013.
"If these automatic budget cuts go into effect, health care, home heating, and education for Massachusetts' middle class families would all suffer, but more money for millionaires and the oil companies would survive. We need a new plan that makes sure the neediest among us can eat, heat their homes, and educate their kids before we preserve wasteful programs for nuclear weapons or oil companies," said Rep. Markey.
"This report comes at a critical time for Massachusetts. It underscores in a stark and comprehensive way the drastic impacts of sequestration on patient care, biomedical research, and a life sciences industry that has become the growth engine for the Massachusetts economy," said Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, MBA, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare.
"This report outlines the severe impact that budget sequestration would have on Massachusetts hospitals, our patients we serve and the communities we call home," said John Erwin, Executive Director of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals (COBTH). "The impact on medical research would be particularly devastating; we face the prospect of losing an entire generation of scientists to nations that are investing heavily in research. But more importantly, deep NIH cuts will stall research that so many patients and their families depend upon for better treatments and ultimate cures."
Though the American Taxpayers Relief Act postponed the start of the sequestration cuts, the impact is already being felt. According to "Sequestration Side Effects", federal agencies anticipating shrinking budgets have been forced to scale back critical programs, withhold promised funding, and cancel contracts.
Among the many programs threatened by sequestration, Massachusetts faces a loss of:
$127 million in critical National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, jeopardizing ongoing research projects as the size and number of available peer-reviewed research grants shrinks. Massachusetts is the second highest recipient of NIH research dollars in the nation, and a cut to the agency's budget would be disproportionately harmful to the Bay State economy.
$6.7 million in LIHEAP funding, which helps low-income families and seniors heat their homes during the winter. With the price of home heating oil continuing to rise, thousands of Massachusetts' families could be left in the cold without this assistance.
$10.7 million in Title I education funding, which provides instruction and materials for nearly 279,000 students in approximately 1,000 schools in 360 districts. An estimated 155 educators could lose their jobs, 16,500 fewer children will be served, and dozens of schools would lose their grants or see the funding reduced.
The alternative, balanced budget plan proposed by Rep. Markey includes the following major elements that would generate the needed $1.2 trillion in cuts and revenue still needed over the next 10 years:
Advances a Pro-Middle Class Tax Policy by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending unnecessary deductions, and cracking down on offshore tax evasion.
Implements a Smart and Targeted Defense Cuts by ending billions of dollars on unnecessary nuclear weapons that were designed for the Cold War, not the security challenges or threats we face in the 21st century today.
Ends Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies to Big Oil
Builds on Cost-Saving Medicare Proposals, by expanding on the many Medicare cost-containment measures included in health care reform.