Federal Budget Cuts Could Slow Cures for Diseases

Meghan McRoberts


Across the board federal budget cuts could hit the medical research industry hard.

President Barack Obama signed an order Friday that triggered $85 Billion in mandatory, government-wide spending cuts.

Nearly $1.6 billion would be cut from the National Institute of Health. The organization funds many grants to medical research institutes across the country.

The cuts could result in a delay in finding new treatments and cures for many diseases.

University of Nebraska Medical Center Staph Research Director Dr. Ken Bayles says the cuts are catastrophic. "They are impacting in a major way our ability to keep on top and at the cutting edge of research and keep competitive with people around the world."

His research team is working on creating and testing a coating to put on prosthetic knees and hips that would be resistant to Staph bacteria. If successful, the coating could eliminate many cases of infected prosthetics that have to be replaced.

That's one development that might be put on the back burner. "Even with a temporary cut, it has a dramatic affect on our research," Bayles said.

Bayles explains research has to stay on pace. If stopped or delayed, many times researchers have to go back to square one. "If we get disrupted and aren't able to keep up with the research then it really is a set back for us," Bayles explained.

Alzheimer's Disease and Cancer research are also on the line. "There's been a big shadow hanging over cancer research for many years. We've worked on improving the funding for cancer research and the sequestration is just very bad news," David Holmquist with the American Cancer Society said.

Holmquist says the cuts put cancer research, prevention programs and screening at risk. "We're going to lose a lot of momentum we've gained and it's going to take a long time to catch up again," Holmquist said.

The cuts also threaten the number of new scientists research institutes will be able to bring in. Sick people may be turned away from trying experimental treatments.

Nurses and the Visiting Nurses Association also tell us a universal flu vaccine is in the works. It would treat nearly every strain of the fly. That, too, would be delayed.