NEC Calls for Protecting Vital Healthcare Programs in New England
The New England Council recently called on Congress not to allow devastating cuts as part of sequestration to programs that fuel New England’s healthcare economy. In a letter sent to members of the New England Congressional delegation last week, Healthcare Committee Chair Laurel Sweeney notes, “It is because of New England’s prominence as a leader in healthcare and the life sciences that we are acutely and disproportionately impacted by legislative and regulatory initiatives that affect these industries.” The letter outlines the importance of the health care industry to New England and urges caution when it comes to potential cuts to healthcare and research pro-grams.
In particular, the Council calls on lawmakers to preserve funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH),to avoid cuts in payments to hospitals, avoid cuts in payments to doctors under the Medicare Advantage program, protect residency programs at teaching hospitals and replace the expiring “doc fix” to avoid cuts in Medicare payments. Lawmakers are confronted with very little time to negotiate an agreement that reverses the extensive budget cuts scheduled for January under sequestration. “There is no question that cuts of this magnitude would erode access to healthcare as well as the medical and healthcare community in this region,” the letter reminds lawmakers.
While the letter does not recommend a specific budgetary initiative, the committee encourages lawmakers to pursue solutions that do not include extensive cuts that would shock the New England healthcare economy. In the letter, the Council endorses “a measured and reasoned approach that does not disrupt access to care for patients, stifle medical innovation, or undermine our region’s economic foundation.”