Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration Looms With Consequences for Mental Health

Unless Congress and the White House agree on a package of revenue increases and spending reductions by March 1, sequestration—automatic across-the-board spending cuts—will be imposed that can have a dramatic impact on APA members and their patients. In a memorandum to the APA leadership yesterday, APA Director of Government Relations Nicholas Meyers said at present action to avert the sequestration appears remote.

Meyers noted that the Obama administration has said cuts to the Mental Health Block Grant would mean that some 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and children will not receive needed mental health services. Among other consequences, NIH research would face project cancellations and thousands of potential layoffs, and the FDA would face delays in new drug approvals. And Medicare—including payments to physicians—faces a 2 percent across-the-board reduction.

APA president Dilip Jeste, M,D., told Psychiatric News that he is “very concerned that the sequestration will have a damaging impact on the care of seriously mentally ill patients, who already lack adequate access to needed services." The proposed cuts in Medicare and NIH funding would also adversely affect clinicians and researchers across the country, Jeste said. “I still hope that this cascade of unfortunate events can be avoided by prudent action on the part of Congress and the administration."

Members who want to review the likely impact on their home state can click here. Members who have not already done so should use the link here to access the Action Alert page and select the sequestration alert. (You may need your member ID to access the Alert.)

(Image: Elena Yakusheva/shutterstock.com)


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