Looming Sequestration Cuts Put Rural Providers on Edge

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 20, 2013

Those doomsday scenario automatic and across-the-board federal spending cuts that were specifically designed to be so painful that they never would occur, in fact, probably will occur at the end of the month.

The so called "sequestration" stipulated in the Budget Control Act of 2011 triggers about $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next nine years. A creature of spineless partisan politics, sequestration has evolved in the last few months from a Capitol Hill sideshow into a viable threat. And now it's a looming concrete reality that will take effect on March 1.

At this point, the only hope for stopping the cuts would be for Congress to broker some sort of budget deal involving targeted spending cuts and tax hikes. As a general rule, when your only hope relies on Congress taking action you should brace for the worst.

Healthcare providers in general, and rural providers in particular, have entered duck and cover mode. Earlier this month the National Rural Health Association's Rural Health Policy Institute learned that the 2% mandated cuts to Medicare totaling more than $2.9 billion in 2013 would disproportionately ill-effect the small rural providers that rely on federal government funding to keep their doors open.

"Sadly, it sounds like all arrows are pointing towards sequestration going into effect—attitudes that didn't seem that way just a few weeks ago," Maggie Elehwany, NRHA's vice president of government affairs and policy, told HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Looming Sequestration Cuts Put Rural Providers on Edge"

Mark Vande Kerkhoff (2/20/2013 at 4:46 PM)
The article's focus is on Congress, but does not give credit to the origins of the sequestration idea. I believe it is important that it also be reported: "Ultimately, the solution came from White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, who, on July 12, 2011, proposed a compulsory trigger that would go into effect if another agreement was not made on tax increases and/or budget cuts equal to or greater than the the debt ceiling increase by a future date. The intent was to secure the commitment of both sides to future negotiation by means of an enforcement mechanism that would be unpalatable to Republicans and Democrats alike. President Obama agreed to the plan. House Speaker John Boehner expressed reservations, but also agreed." Everyone wants to blame Congress and not the bill's ultimate author.

roger (2/20/2013 at 3:36 PM)
So, where's the President's plan? All he has done so far is complain about it. He promised the sequester wouldn't happen even after Democrats pushed for it in the Congressional negotiations and he signed it.




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