Note in the comments, someone points out that the drugs to treat ebola are
considered "experimental" and the insurance companies don't pay for
experimental drugs... and Texas/pRick Perry turned down Medicaid
Cuts "Eroded Our Ability to Respond" to Ebola, Says Top Health
Wed Oct. 1, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
CDC's Dr. Jordan Tappero, about to don his goggles just prior to entering the
Ebola treatment unit CDC/Sally
On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) confirmedthe first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United
States; the infected patient was a man who traveled from Liberia to visit family
in Texas. It's the latest development in the ever-worsening outbreak of the
virus, which so far has sickened more than 6,500 people and killed more than
3,000. The United States government has pledged to send help to West Africa to
help stop Ebola from spreading—but the main agencies tasked with this aid work
say they're hamstrung by budget cuts from the 2013 sequester.
On September 16, the Senate Committees on
Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing to discuss the resources needed to address the
outbreak. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked NIH representative Anthony Fauci
about sequestration's effect on the efforts.
even modest investments had been made…the current Ebola epidemic could have been
detected earlier, and it could have been identified and contained."
"I have to tell you honestly it's been a
significant impact on us," said Fauci. "It has both in an acute and a chronic,
insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues
would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats. And in my
institute particularly, that's responsible for responding on the dime to an
emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging."
Sequestration required the NIH to cut its budget by 5 percent, a total of $1.55
billion in 2013. Cuts were applied across all of its programs, affectingevery
area of medical research.
Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC's National
Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, testified before the
committee, making a case for increased funding. Her department, which has led
the US intervention in West Africa, was hit with a $13 million budget cut as a result of the cuts in 2013. Though
appropriations increased in 2014 and are projected to rise further in 2015, the
agency hasn't yet made up for the deficit—according to Bell, $100 million has
already gone toward stopping the Ebola epidemic, and much more is needed. The
United Nations estimates it will take over $600 million just to get the crisis
MoJo coverage of the Ebola crisis.
Explain Why the Ebola Crisis Is Way Worse Than You Think
Maps Show How Ebola Spread In Liberia
the World Health Organization Doesn't Have Enough Funds to Fight
Drugs and Vaccines Can't Stop This Ebola Outbreak
Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse by Cutting Down
Bell also argued that the epidemic could have been
stopped if more had been done sooner to build global health security.
International aid budgets were hit hard by the sequester, reducing global health programs by
$411 million and USAID by $289 million. "If even modest investments had been
made to build a public health infrastructure in West Africa previously, the
current Ebola epidemic could have been detected earlier, and it could have been
identified and contained," she said during her testimony. "This Ebola epidemic
shows that any vulnerability could have widespread impact if not stopped at the
Still, CDC officials have pledged to do everything
in their power to stop Ebola in its tracks. "The sooner the world comes together
to help West Africa, the safer we all will be," Director Tom Frieden says in a
statement released in early September. "We know how to stop
this outbreak. There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down—the challenge
is to scale up the massive response needed."