Lawmakers Might Have Time To Avert Medicare Payment Cuts
Health care providers are hoping that a one-month delay in reductions to Medicare reimbursement rates under sequestration will give lawmakers enough time to develop and pass legislation to avert cuts under the sequester, Modern Healthcare reports (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 2/26).
The mandated cuts involve nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board reductions, including a 2% reduction to Medicare reimbursement rates. In January, President Obama signed legislation -- negotiated by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- that delayed the cuts until March 1 (California Healthline, 2/26).
Delay in Medicare Payment Cuts
However, a provision in the sequester's rules postpones the 2% cut to Medicare providers and insurers until April 1.
Some advocates say Medicare providers could avoid the cuts if the public outcry -- which is likely to increase after the sequester's initial reductions take effect -- spur lawmakers to pass a quick deficit-reduction deal.
Chip Kahn -- president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals -- said, "People are going to wait to see what actually happens when the sequester actually begins, with some of the ramifications the White House has outlined, to see what actually happens with public opinion."
Although providers do not expect lawmakers to reach a deal to avoid the sequester from taking effect, some continue to follow alternative solutions and urge lawmakers to compromise (Modern Healthcare, 2/26).
If the cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates take effect, providers face losing $11 billion in reimbursements. CMS has yet to specify how it would disburse the cuts and whether they would affect categories of providers, such as hospitals and physicians, differently.
White House Outlines Sequester Cuts for States
Among other findings, the report showed New York stands to lose about $1 million that could be used to respond to public health threats and fight infectious diseases.
Meanwhile, California will lose $1.1 million in vaccination funding, resulting in 15,810 fewer vaccinations in children for hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough.
Sequester Would Affect Provider Education Programs
In addition, the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition said funding cuts for the Health Resources and Services Administration could reduce the number of providers receiving continued education training, including:
- 29,000 fewer providers taking courses on women's health, health disparities, obesity and other related topics through health education centers;
- More than 5,000 fewer practitioners trained in geriatric education centers; and
- More than 800 fewer providers receiving continued education on post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral health issues (Pittman, MedPage Today, 2/26).