What is in this article?:
The automatic spending cuts demanded by the sequestration that kicked in March 1 go across the federal healthcare agencies. How will they affect continuing medical education and pharmaceutical meetings? Here are some possibilities.
Trickle-Down Sequestration Effects
Medicare will start paying docs 2 percent less to treat beneficiaries if lawmakers don’t reach a different solution before this cut goes into effect on April 1. Physicians, already squeezed by a Medicare payment system that hasn’t kept pace with practice operating costs in recent years, along with rising insurance rates and other costs, may stop participating in optional continuing medical education, or cut down on the number of activities they participate in as a result. And the cuts, which come to about $11 billion for 2013, may also reduce the total number of people available to participate in healthcare CE. According to a September 2012 report from the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association, that 2 percent Medicare cut could translate into 766,000 healthcare and related industry jobs being either lost or not created.
The National Institutes for Health also is facing a $2.4 billion cut, and it is expected that the cut will be felt across all 27 of the agency’s institutes and centers, according to Adam Dion, MSc, an analyst who covers the healthcare industry for GlobalData. The Office of Management and Budget estimates sequestration will result in the NIH issuing about 2,300 fewer grants to medical researchers in FY2013, representing almost a 25 percent reduction in the NIH’s competitive grant allocation.
As Dion says, “With the success rate for winning an NIH grant at its lowest levels in American history, this could be potentially devastating for biomedical researchers, who seek funding to continue their research programs or for first-time investigators who are starting new projects.” It will mean delays in existing research projects, and likely the elimination of thousands of research positions, according to a statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
And it’s not just researchers and investigators who will suffer, says Lundberg—it’s healthcare providers in general, and their patients. “I think the real tragedy of sequestration is threefold: HCPs will be blocked from educational opportunities to advance their clinical skills, medical specialty associations will have to curb CME opportunities or potentially close their doors, and, ultimately, the quality of patient care will not evolve and suffer.”