White House Blames Sequestration for Vaccination Cuts That Obama Proposed a Year Ago

By Matt Cover | March 8, 2013 | 3:58pm EST

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration claims that because of the $44 billion in across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) this year, tens of thousands of American children will not be vaccinated. However, the idea to cut the vaccination program – at a rate higher than sequestration might do – was introduced by the president himself in his 2013 budget proposal over a year ago.

On its website, the White House displays an interactive map where viewers can track how many children it claims will not receive vaccines due to sequestration.

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Known as Section 317, the immunization program provides vaccines to states for children who might not otherwise get them. In his 2013 budget, President Obama proposed cutting the 317 program by nearly $60 million.

“The FY 2013 budget request for the Section 317 immunization program reflects a program level decrease of $57.986 million,” the administration’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) budget says. The CDC is the agency in charge of the 317 grant program.

The reason? Obamacare. In its budget request, the administration said it was cutting the Section 317 program because its Obamacare health law would push more people onto private health plans that cover vaccines, meaning the government could cut back on providing them.

“Health reform expansion will further increase access to immunizations and decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured individuals served by the Section 317 Program, resulting in cost savings,” stated the Department of Health and Human Services in its fiscal 2013 report on CDC “Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees.”

In other words, before it was warning that thousands of children all across the country would be “hurt” by the reduced vaccine funding, the White House was planning to cut the funding itself and claiming that nobody would be hurt because Obamacare would help them get insurance.

Unlike its sequestration map, the White House did not include any estimate in its budget request of how many children would go without vaccines due to its proposed cuts.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden admitted that Obama had already planned the cuts to the Section 317 program in testimony before a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing on March 5, telling Rep. Andy Harris, M.D.  (R-Md.) that the president had already planned to cut the program.

Rep. Harris: “Is this the Vaccines for Children program?”

Dr. Frieden: “No it is not, sir.”

Rep. Harris: “Which program is it? Is it 317?”

Dr. Frieden: “Yes, it is.”

Rep. Harris: “And what did the President’s budget do to 317 – the president’s prospective budget for 2103?”

Dr. Frieden: “The precise number I would have to get back to you –”

Rep. Harris: “Does [a] $58 million cut sound familiar?”

Dr. Frieden: "Yes."

The CDC told the Washington Post that sequestration would cut much less from the program – approximately $18 billion – meaning that Obama’s budget would have cut the program by $40 billion more than sequestration.

Obama’s 2013 budget never went into effect because Senate Democrats voted it down unanimously. So the Section 317 program never saw the cuts the president had directed. However, the White House did not disclose any of this information on its sequester-consequences map, neither its planned cuts nor the notion that it claimed Obamacare would take care of the problem anyway.

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