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What's Next? Update on Super Committee Budget Recommendations

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) has received another important update from the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) about the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Continue to take action and reach out to your Members of Congress in efforts to protect federally-funded medical research.

From PAN:

As you know from media reports, the “Super Committee” has announced it was unable to reach an agreement that would reduce the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years.  While the impact of this failure on programs that matter to our community will not, technically, be felt until January 2013, the uncertainty generated by this is already causing great concern. 

If no other action is taken by Congress, “across-the-board” cuts will begin in January 2013.  The formula is complex, but the range of estimates for cuts to the government programs we care about is from 6-10%.  Under the Budget Control Act, cuts to Medicare are limited to 2% and can only affect certain parts of the program, but the impact on the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense Parkinson's research program could be much, much higher.  PAN is opposed to this across-the-board formula both because it is so arbitrary and because of the devastating impact that cuts of this magnitude would have on biomedical research and on the Food and Drug Administration, which is crucial for getting proposed therapies through clinical trials and available to those who need them. 

Much can happen between now and next January.  Because the Budget Control Act was enacted by Congress and signed by the President, it can be changed the same way.  There is some talk that Congress will attempt to amend or repeal the Budget Control Act to keep the cuts from happening at all.  However, last night the President said he would veto any attempts by Congress to step away from the mandate of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion.  What is more likely is that talks will continue on Capitol Hill to cobble together a plan that will reach the mandated fiscal goal, with enough votes to pass and sent to the President for signature.

In the meantime, it is our job to continue to keep the pressure on Congress to let them know that drastic cuts to biomedical research and Medicare are not an option, whether they come from across-the-board automatic cuts or by agreement.  It is also important that we continue to keep the pressure on Congress regarding the 2012 budget, which is still not resolved.  Not only is an increase for NIH in the 2012 budget necessary to maintain ongoing biomedical research into Parkinson's disease but, in the unfortunate circumstance that across-the-board cuts are implemented, the 2012 budget will be the  baseline from which the cuts are taken in January 2013.  It is important, therefore, that such a baseline does not already reflect a loss in research dollars from 2011.  If you have not done so already, please see PAN's Alert from last Friday regarding the 2012 budget.

As always, we will keep you informed as these talks progress.  As of now, however, it does not look like this process will be completed by the end of December, as was first anticipated.  Instead, we will be grappling with this issue through 2012.  Please stay involved.  Your voice is crucial.

PAN is the voice of the Parkinson's community in Washington, DC.  In 2011, PDF is supporting PAN with a grant of $200,000.


Source Date: Nov 23 2011