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.