By Rose Hoban

In the past few weeks, pundits and politicians have been weighing in on the so-called “fiscal cliff” that looms on Jan. 1, 2013.

Credit: Rose Hoban

The dire-sounding term refers to a series of budget cuts and tax increases put in place as a way of strong-arming members of Congress to make a budget deal during the summer and fall of 2011, as they debated raising the debt ceiling.

But Congressional members were unable to come to agreement. So, legislation triggering automatic cuts – known as sequestration – at the beginning of 2013 will go into effect that will eventually trim hundreds of billions of dollars out of the federal budget, and also trigger the end of tax cuts put in place during President Bush’s second term.

Taxes up, services down

If the tax cuts go into effect, middle-income families will see a tax increase of about $2,000, according to the Tax Policy Center, an independent policy think tank. Wealthier earners will see a bigger hike in taxes.

Another report released this summer by the staff of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) calculated the losses in services for each state. Harkin is the head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services.

Job losses in N.C.?

If Congress can’t reach a compromise on a deficit cutting deal before the new year, and the cuts go into effect, that will mean more than a half trillion dollars of cuts to defense budgets over the coming decade. According to a study commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association, the defense cuts would result in close to 12,000 job cuts next year, concentrated in the eastern part of the state.

Health care advocates from all over the political map are also worrying about automatic cuts to health and social service programs. Those cuts include a 2 percent cut in Medicare that Obama administration officials estimate would total about $11.1 billion.

Last month, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association commissioned a study showing that if the cuts go into effect, it will cost more than 496,000 jobs in 2013.

In North Carolina, the groups estimate that about 16,000 health care jobs will be cut, and by 2021 that number will rise to more than 24,000.

Department of Health & Human ServicesFY 2012 Funding FY 2013 Sequester CutImpact
Head Start$172,280,427.00$13,437,873.00447 Head Start jobs lost and 2,146 fewer children served
Child Care and Development Block Grant$76,128,077.00$5,937,990.004,031 fewer children receive child care subsidies
Maternal and Child Health Block grant$16,273,588.00$1,269,340.0065,925 fewer women, children, and families served
AIDS Drug Assistance Program$27,069,633.00$2,111,431.00353 fewer patients receive life-saving drugs
HIV Prevention and Testing$6,819,608.00$531,929.0013,298 fewer people tested for HIV
Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening$2,357,718.00$183,902.00730 fewer women screened for cancer
Childhood Immunization Grants$4,853,000.00$378,534.005,541 fewer children receive MMR, Tdap, flu and Hepatitis B vaccinations
Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grants$14,976,630.00$1,441,144.00Reduced ability to respond to biological, radiological, chemical, and natural emergencies
Survey and Certification of Health Care and Long-Term Care Facilities$8,166,412.00$636,980.00Transplant and ambulatory surgery centers would be recertified once every 30 years as compared to current schedule of once every 3-4 years
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program$81,534,565.00$4,993,614.00Less funding to provide home heating and cooling assistance to low-income individuals and families
Community Services Block Grant$17,678,537.00$1,378,926.009,166 fewer low-income individuals served
Family Violence Prevention and Services$2,630,600.00$205,187.004,715 domestic violence victims not served and 6,990 local crisis calls not answered
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment$39,601,511.00$3,088,918.004,843 fewer admissions to substance abuse treatment programs
Senior Nutrition$22,329,973.00$1,741,738.00Less funding to provide congregate and home- delivered meals to needy seniors

Department of EducationFY 2012 FundingFY 2013 Sequester CutImpact
Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies$399,562,177.00$34,078,909.00469 education jobs lost, 50,993 fewer students served, and 111 fewer schools receive grant funds
School Improvement Grants$14,390,384.00$1,122,450.002 fewer schools receive grant funds and 1,009 fewer students served
Improving Teacher Quality State Grants$53,878,382.00$5,875,340.006,193 fewer teachers, serving 87,445 students, receive professional development
21st Century Community Learning Centers$30,382,826.00$2,369,860.0045 fewer centers and 3,154 fewer students served
Impact Aid$15,393,777.00$1,200,715.0018 education jobs lost
Special Education Grants to States$326,077,875.00$26,524,890.00320 jobs no longer supported by Federal funding
Special Education Preschool State Grants$11,094,802.00$826,061.0010 jobs no longer supported by Federal funding
Special Education Grants for Infants and Families$13,005,735.00$1,017,857.00770 fewer infants and children served
English Language Acquisition State Grants$15,381,023.00$1,211,736.008,685 fewer students served
State Grants for Career and Technical Education$35,567,554.00$6,735,386.00130,220 fewer students receive education and skills for high-demand jobs
Federal Work Study$22,543,424.00$1,787,451.001,388 fewer students receive financial assistance
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants$16,680,570.00$1,235,363.001,794 fewer students receive Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant financial aid

Cliff image courtesy Mark Heard, Flickr Creative Commons

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Rose Hoban

Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992, but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees...