Government Shutdown: Impact on Medicare

The federal Fiscal Year runs from October 1st through September 30th.  In order for the government to operate, Congress must pass and the President must sign appropriations bills that release the money necessary to fund the operation of the federal government.  At the present time, all indications are that this current dispute between the President and republicans could last for some time, leaving non-essential personnel and functions on the side lines.  As of early October, not a single one of the 12 appropriations bills required to fund the government have been signed into law. 

Break Away from the Static

So what does this mean for Medicare and Medicaid? Because the money used to pay Medicare benefits is not subject to the appropriations process (it is an entitlement program, not a discretionary program) and the processing of Medicare claims is deemed “essential”, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has announced that there should be no disruption in the processing and payment of Medicare claims.  In fact, most CMS activities will continue despite the appropriations impasse.

However, all work on policy issues or new/pending regulations will be suspended during the shut-down.  Work on drafting the final Physician Fee Schedule rule for 2014 has been suspended during the shut-down and could delay the release of that final rule.  In years past, the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule has been released in early November.  Due to the shut-down, it is expected that the release of the Final Rule will be delayed.  How long of a delay will be determined by how long the government shut-down continues.

ADVOCATE will continue to keep you informed on this and all issues impacting your practice.

Best regards,
Kirk Reinitz, CPA