The breakdown of deficit talks in Congress will exact little pain on the U.S. healthcare industry, but it’s a temporary reprieve from steeper cuts that could be put back on the table in 2013.

Have you heard the news? It seems the grand experiment failed. The Congressional supercommittee, charged with doing what the Congress at large could not do, has run out of time. And, by running out of time, failed in its mission to come up with budget cuts.

What does that mean for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries?

As Reuters reports, in the event the supercommittee should fail, as it has, then automatic and sweeping cuts go into effect. For Medicare, that means a two percent cut across the board, or about $123 billion over the next decade. However, it might have been $500 billion to $700 billion in cuts, if various supercommittee arguments had prevailed.

Nevertheless, as it stands, there definitely will be a little pain, but not quite as much for individual beneficiaries. No, likely it will hit hospitals and doctors the hardest. Why? In the aggregate, that’s where the money tends to end up.

Of course, we’re not yet out of the woods. Just as it became clear last summer that we’d have to wait until the winter for some kind of budget solution from Congress, it now seems that we’ll have to wait for the upcoming election season. In turn, expect things to intensify even further and for budget discussions to become all the more drastic.

Reference: Reuters (November 22, 2011) “U.S. healthcare cuts minimal, more pain looms

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