Health | Opinion

Mark Trahant: Indian Health Service faces devastating cuts

"The sequester is supposed to begin March 1 but because employees would have to be given notice the actual pay cuts won’t begin until April or even May. (However the longer the delay, the more likely the cuts will be larger because there will be less time before Sept. 1 to reach the required savings.)

Program cuts across programs that serve Indian Country will be equally devastated. I am starting to get numbers and will report specifics later this week. In general, I am hearing estimates from Indian Country program managers of immediate budget cuts that range from 15 percent to 30 percent.

IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux wrote tribal leaders on Jan. 9: “I know that you are hearing in the news about the discussions about reducing the federal debt, government spending, and the threat of sequestration. While we don’t know the impact on our FY 2013 budget at this time, we will keep you informed. Until then, we are continuing the important work of the IHS each day. We are currently on a Continuing Resolution at last year’s funding levels through March 2013.”

She said the agency is facing a “new reality” that will require “efficiency in spending rules, including less travel and conferences, so we all need to think about new ways to do business together.”"

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