Medicare providers would see reductions of about $11 billion beginning in January as part of a series of automatic spending cuts set to begin next year unless Congress acts to halt them, according to estimates released today by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
In the case of the cuts to Medicare, beneficiaries would see no changes in their benefits, but providers, including doctors and hospitals, would see an across-the-board two percent cut to reimbursements.
Beyond the two percent cuts to Medicare, the report says other non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs would be cut 7.6 percent, and non-exempt defense mandatory programs would be cut 10 percent.
The numbers came in a report that details how federal agencies would implement roughly $120 billion in mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts agreed to by Congress and President Barack Obama last August as a way to end a bitterly partisan dispute over the budget. Lawmakers in both chambers, as well as Obama, want to avoid the process, known as sequestration.
Noting that “sequestration would have a devastating impact on important defense and nondefense programs,” the administration detailed cuts to more than 1,200 federal government budget accounts. Half the cuts would come from military programs.
“The sequestration itself was never intended to be implemented,” the Office of Management and Budget said in the report. “The Administration strongly believes that sequestration is bad policy, and that Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”
Lawmakers could still act to stop the cuts if they think doing so is in their best interests. In order to avoid a government shutdown in the middle of election season, party leaders in both chambers just cut a deal to prevent the government from running out of money when the fiscal year ends in September. The House voted yesterday to approve the six-month package and the Senate is expected to send it to Obama next week.
Despite House Speaker John Boehner’s comments to the contrary – he said earlier this week he was “not confident at all” that Congress could cut a deal to avoid the automatic cuts in January. Many analysts believe that lawmakers will pass a temporary reprieve because the cuts are disliked so much by both parties.
ADVOCATE will keep you advised of further updates.
Kirk Reinitz, CPA