By Amy Simmons Farber
A lot of newspaper ink is being devoted to the budget sequester, scheduled to occur on March 1. As noted in NACHC’s Health Centers on the Hill Blog, the reductions will be approximately 9 percent for nondefense programs. How these cuts to government spending will affect people and communities is a topic of real concern to media. Over the weekend, the New York Times ran an editorial, The Real Cost of Shrinking Government, which calculated the blow of funding reductions in areas ranging from national security to health care—including health centers. “Community Health Centers will be cut by $120 million, meaning that about 900,000 fewer patients lacking insurance will receive primary care,” The Times noted. The editorial also noted:
“The sequester will not stop to contemplate whether these are the right programs to cut; it is entirely indiscriminate, slashing programs whether they are bloated or essential.”
These stories are also playing out in local headlines. For instance, the local NBC affiliate in Columbus, OH, [see story] visited with patients at Lower Lights Christian Health Center to demonstrate how the numbers game in Washington can affect real people beyond the beltway:
“‘I never went to the doctor before because they’re just really expensive. I didn’t have insurance or anything, but I was able to come here,’ said Shelley Greene [a patient].
‘Fifty-one percent of the patients seen at the health center share similar stories. But their care is in jeopardy should Congress let across-the-board funding cuts go into effect on March 1.’”
No doubt, between now and March 1, we’ll likely see a lot more stories like these. Stay tuned.