Columbia, SC — Unless Congress and the president reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, the Jan. 2 sequestration will include an across-the-board 8.2 percent decrease in funding to federal agencies and programs that fund maternal and child-health services.
These cuts will have a disproportionate impact on low-income mothers and children and will limit access to care and services for thousands in South Carolina.
Among the cuts and their impacts:
• Decreased funding to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program would cut 10,700 mothers and young children in South Carolina from the WIC program. Low- and moderate-income families depend upon this program for adequate nutrition and nutrition education.
• Decreased funding to the children’s hospitals graduate medical education program would result in fewer pediatric residents being trained in South Carolina. This would mean fewer pediatricians completing residency in South Carolina and worsening shortages of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists, especially in rural areas.
• Decreased funding to the South Carolina Section 317 immunization program would result in a cut of $208,700 in vaccine funding, with a potential result of 3,000 fewer children receiving vaccinations. This program funds vaccines for uninsured and low-income children who might not otherwise receive immunizations.
• Decreased funding to the S.C. Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant would result in a cut of $918,000. This block grant supports multiple programs promoting health, combating infant mortality and improving access to care and serving more than 180,500 people in South Carolina.
This is just a sample of the impact that the federal budget cuts under sequestration would have on the health and welfare of low-income children in South Carolina. These are federal programs, but their effects are felt in every town in our state.
We must advocate for our legislators to encourage a more balanced federal plan that does not disproportionately target the most vulnerable among us.
Deborah Greenhouse, M.D.
President, S.C. Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics