Unless you actually enjoy politics, it is a topic that many of us try to avoid.
Unfortunately, it affects all of us in more ways than we like to believe.
Take the current budget sequestration issue that many people are talking about, a set of forced budget cuts in defense and non-defense spending to help cut the deficit.
Although many programs are exempt from sequestration cuts, including Social Security, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, child nutrition programs, Supplemental Security Income, refundable tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax credit, veterans' compensation and benefits, and federal retirement, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that "sequestration will significantly reduce funding for many programs important to children and pediatricians," including the:
- Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant - "has provided a foundation for ensuring the health of the Nation's mothers, women, children and youth, including children and youth with special health care needs, and their families" for over 75 years.
- Section 317 Immunization Program - "provides funding for immunization operations and infrastructure necessary to implement a comprehensive immunization program at the federal, state, and local levels."
- Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education program - "provides Federal funds to the Nation's freestanding children's hospitals to help them maintain their graduate medical education (GME) programs that train resident physicians."
- Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program - "facilitates collaboration and partnership at the Federal, State and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs."
- Prevention and Public Health Fund - "A
$15$10 billion effort to improve health by preventing disease."
Fortunately, according to the AAP, "it is possible that Congress could avoid the sequester through various budgetary mechanisms, such as repealing or amending existing law, creating new revenues (such as taxes) to offset the cuts, or passing alternative deficit reduction legislation."
The AAP and many pediatricians are "urging Congress to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not disproportionately hurt children." These cuts will dramatically impact the health of women, pregnant women who need prenatal care, infants and children, including those with special health care needs.
But it is not just other people's children who will be hurt if these programs are cut. We all benefit from them. If your kids or other family members have ever been to a children's hospital or have ever seen a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, then you have likely benefited from the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education program. By helping keep immunization rates high, the Section 317 Immunization Program protects us all from vaccine preventable diseases.
And the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which has already been cut by 1/3, is working to "improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs," which will benefit us all.
The Friends of Maternal and Child Health Coalition, a group of 50+ national and state organizations that support maternal and child health policies at the national level, states that "sequestration will eliminate nearly one billion dollars in federal funding, which will hinder access to critical health care services, stunt the impact and development of prevention initiatives, and reduce crucial funding for medical research - much of which would not be funded without government dollars - designed to promote and improve the health of all women and their families."
Tell your Congressman that you don't want them to play a game of chicken with budget sequestration, waiting for the other side to blink. Tell Congress to work out a way to sustain funding for these programs.
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