Budget Cuts Rattle Medical Research; Patients Ultimately Affected

As part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress passed the sequester cuts, imposing across-the-board reductions on several agencies. The National Institutes of Health lost five percent of their budget, cutting $1.6 billion in funding. Pam Miller of the American Heart Association said those cuts are going to have some negative effects on research and other functions.

“That’s just devastating in terms of funding for research grants and just everything that goes into things related to research,” she said. “It’s the second-lowest funding since 2000.”

The funding cuts will likely cause a chain reaction, according to Miller. The dean of the IU School of Medicine said they received nearly $120 million last year for research from the NIH, and Miller said the cuts will affect the economy as a whole, since many jobs are at stake due to the cuts.

She said the reduction in funding have pushed the NIH backward several years, slowing research and rendering them unable to fund a number of grants.

“So, a cut of $1.6 billion would reduce the NIH budget to 2007 funding levels, and would mean that 2300 grants that NIH plans to fund would not be awarded,” Miller said.

She said heart patients could be more at risk if these cuts to NIH continue because many advancements that have improved the treatment of patients with heart conditions came through NIH research. Cutting funding to those programs would have a very direct impact on heart patients, Miller explained.