The following post is an excerpt from a recent op-ed by Harold L. Paz, MD, CEO of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State; and dean of the Penn State College of Medicine. You can read the full op-ed, published in several regional papers, here. The Penn State College of Medicine is a Research!America member.
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is deeply concerned about the impact that sequestration will have on programs that are vital to the health of those we serve, including medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
As central Pennsylvania’s only academic health center we have a responsibility to serve our community by producing the next generation of health care professionals and biomedical scientists, discovering new medical knowledge that will improve health, and providing state-of-the-art care for serious or life-threatening conditions. Once sequestration takes effect on April 1, 2013, it will begin to take a toll on our efforts to fulfill those missions. For NIH, sequestration will result in a $1.5 billion cut to teaching and research hospitals like ours in the first year alone. For our Medical Center and College of Medicine it means a reduction of $4.85 million annually or $1.2 million just for the months of April, May and June. This comes on top of the fact that NIH has lost one-fifth of its purchasing power over the past decade.
Researchers who cannot get competitive funding in the U.S. may seek other opportunities abroad. If we continue to undercut our national investment in medical research, we not only will deny hope to millions of patients and their families, but we also jeopardize our standing as the world’s leader in medical research, weakening our ability to compete in the global innovation-based economy of the 21st century. It is estimated that the cut in NIH funding will result in the loss of more than 20,000 jobs nationwide. At Penn State Hershey, we project that we may have to cut as many as 32 jobs.
If we are to address the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, America needs more investment in medical research, not less. We urge our government leaders to work together on a solution that reverses the pernicious effects of sequestration—and the devastating impact of continued cuts—on programs that benefit all of our citizens.
Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S.
CEO, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Penn State
Dean, Penn State College of Medicine