Unless Congress acts between now and year end, the following will occur on January 1st:
• The 26.5 percent SGR cuts to Medicare physician reimbursement will be implemented
• The Bush tax cuts will expire, increasing rates for all Americans, and
• All Federal spending will be cut due to Sequestration
In the case of Sequestration, the cuts to Medicare, including doctors and hospitals, would see an across-the-board 2 percent cut to reimbursements.
Beyond the 2 percent cuts to Medicare, the report says other non-exempt non-defense mandatory programs would be cut 7.6 percent, and non-exempt defense mandatory programs would be cut 10 percent.
All this is looming even though Democrats and Republicans agree that it shouldn’t happen. Instead of stopping them, the factions have once again painted themselves into a corner. If Congress passes a fix, Medicare would pay the claims at the higher rates. If no deal is reached, Medicare would begin paying the claims at the reduced rates.
Friday was supposed to conclude the 112th Congress. Many in Congress planed on leaving town for the Holidays, including House Speaker John Boehner, but they’ll be back this week as the year-end deadlines loom.
Boehner, the lead Republican negotiator on a possible agreement, met Thursday afternoon with President Barack Obama at the White House in their second face-to-face talks of the week. The 50-minute meeting that both sides described as “frank” produced no breakthrough.
Boehner and the rest of the legislators will return today to work the congressional equivalent of “overtime” on reaching an agreement by the end of the year. The session could run up to Christmas, then break for the holiday and resume again before the new year. The 113th Congress is scheduled to convene on January 3rd.
ADVOCATE will provide information as it becomes available.
Kirk Reinitz, CPA