Congress curbs Medicare

By on March 28, 2013

Sequestration on Medicare – It sounds like a boring, unbearable topic that can only be totally understood by lawyers, economists, politicians, and etc., but don’t be fooled. Although the logistics may be overwhelming at times, this impending issue is not a difficult topic to grasp, and its effects will have an immediate impact on the entire country.

Cuts to medicare as a result of sequestratin will adversely affect the elderly, which has left state and federal lawmakers scrambling for a solution to the sudden cuts. MCT Campus

Cuts to medicare as a result of sequestratin will adversely affect the elderly, which has left state and federal lawmakers scrambling for a solution to the sudden cuts. MCT Campus

First of all, sequestration is a fancy word used to describe a government mechanism designed to invoke automated spending cuts from the government that will reduce the budget deficit. The process is designed to decrease government spending by $1.2 trillion from 2013-2021, according to the Medicare News Group.

The process was initially put into place to help motivate Congress to work together and create a lower, more manageable federal budget. However, this proved to be an idea that may have been better in theory than it became in reality.

On Sept. 12, 2012, the American Medical Association and over 100 lobbying companies sent a letter to Congress pleading for an alternative plan of action to be administered before the automatic spending cuts were scheduled to take place in early 2013.

Part of the letter read, “The combination of the sequestration cut and looming Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment cut would not only impede improvements to our health care system, it could lead to serious access to care issues for Medicare patients as well as employment reductions in medical practices.”

However, Congress failed to enact an alternative deficit reduction plan, and the sequestration deadline has arrived, causing much speculation to what the ramifications of this mean – especially in regards to Medicare.

Policies put forth by Barack Obama are a point of contention among lawmakers who are trying to find a solution to cuts in medicare in the context of the new laws for ObamaCare.

Policies put forth by Barack Obama are a point of contention among lawmakers who are trying to find a solution to cuts in medicare in the context of the new laws for ObamaCare.

The newly adopted policy includes a 2 percent reduction in payments to various Medicare providers, resulting in an estimated $123 billion decrease in funds from 2013-2021.

Without getting into the gritty and grimy financial aspects of this issue, this basically means “bad news” for senior citizens, resulting from major cutbacks in benefits. Very few people believe that this, when looked at as a whole, will have positive effects, according to an article appearing in The New York Times.

Although both major parties in Congress generally agree that sequestration is a punch in the face of the nation’s elderly, Democrats and Republicans have been reluctant to concede.

Recently, however, some Republican governors have begun considering President Obama’s proposed Affordable Care Act.

“I said in Williamsburg, after this election’s over, these governors, the Republican governors that are claiming the Affordable Care Act is the end of the world, are going to recognize that it’s a way for them to grow jobs and economic opportunities by giving lower income and middle income Americans access to health care,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-VT, according to National Public
Radio. “And you’re seeing them come on board, one after another.”

In fact, 7 out of the 30 Republican Governors have decided to expand their respective state’s Medicare programs and consider accepting the President’s proposed plan. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, R-ID, says that the reason for this is not necessarily a change of opinion but rather “playing from the cards you’ve been dealt.”

The plan states that the federal government would reimburse states 100% in total spending on Medicare for the first 3 years and up to 90% thereafter

Still, other states are skeptical of accepting the Affordable Care Act as a possible alternative to the cutbacks on Medicare produced by sequestration and are searching for another answer.

Their concerns of accepting the law arise from doubting that the money will actually be there, especially when considering the entire effects that sequestration will have on the U.S. economy as a whole in the next few years.

Sequestration does have one positive consequence on Medicare, however. The looming disaster of impending cutbacks is forcing state leaders to act immediately upon this issue, instead of just creating another way to delay the inevitable.

Russ Timothy
Staff Writer
russtim@uab.edu

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