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Following the news of a government shutdown, many of the nation’s teaching hospitals, including the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) renowned research hospital, will be largely affected. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), funding through the NIH, responsible for cutting-edge science, will be “disrupted, slowing progress and, in some instances, stopping active research that improves health and the quality of life through new treatments and cures.”1
The shutdown comes at an unfortunate time, as more Americans will have access to care through the Affordable Care Act. Already experiencing a shortage of physicians across the country, this creates an even bigger issue, as lack of funding to these teaching hospitals cripples efforts to train new doctors.
“We urge Congress and the administration to work together to develop a plan to keep the federal government running,” said AAMC president and chief executive officer Dr. Darrell Kirch. “At the same time, we encourage policymakers to consider the dramatic impact that funding cuts to medical research and doctor training will have on the health of the country and the millions of patients who depend on the life-saving research conducted at, and critical health care services provided by, the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals.”
Outside of the NIH hospital, laboratory experiments, ranging from flu vaccines to finding the cause of autism, as well as the ability to track disease outbreaks and foodborne illnesses, were suspended, as scientists were sent home.
“If you expected new treatments for cancer or a new universal influenza vaccine or discovering the causes of autism were going to move forward at the maximum it could, that will not be the case,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said. "This is a profoundly discouraging day.”2
References 1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2013/10/01/government-shutdown-hits-research-teaching-hospitals-residency-programs/ 2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/government-shutdown-nih_n_4025297.html