In less than two weeks Medicare reimbursement rates will be slashed two percent unless Congress and the president can avert automatic federal budget cuts.
Healthcare providers are bracing for the March 1 cut as lawmakers do not appear to be willing to compromise to either increase taxes and other revenue streams or cut other programs. Unlike the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 which Congress passed on Jan. 1 to prevent an automatic 26.5 percent cut of Medicare reimbursements to physicians, the upcoming sequester cuts of March 1 appear likely to go through — at least for now.
The automatic cuts have been looming since last summer, and many expected lawmakers to address them in the compromise that spawned the American Taxpayer Relief Act. But one of the compromises appeared to be that dealing with the sequester cuts would have to wait.
Pundits and experts have been weighing in on the impact to healthcare and healthcare providers. The Congess-watching blog, The Hill, has posted an excellent article on the impact of sequester cuts to teaching hospitals. Likewise the California Healthline has analyzed how rural providers will be affected.
Time is quickly running out, but as of last week there was little progress. Democrats proposed a package of tax hikes and spending cuts to prevent the automatic cuts, but Republicans rejected it.