Skip to comments.Health world braces for sequester
Posted on 02/24/2013 4:58:47 PM PST by Sub-Driver
Health world braces for sequester By Sam Baker - 02/24/13 03:00 PM ET
Every corner of the healthcare world has something and potentially a lot to lose from the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to hit the government on March 1.
Doctors and hospitals say the sequesters Medicare cuts will cost their industries more than 200,000 jobs just this year.
A reduction in food inspections could lead to more food-borne illnesses, the White House has warned.
And advocates for medical research say their work could be set back a generation.
With the cuts looking increasingly inevitable, healthcare industries that have spent the past year lobbying Congress to cancel the sequester are now turning their attention toward absorbing its cuts.
Its one in a long series of indignities hat they have suffered, and it just accumulates, said Dan Mendelson, founder and CEO of the consulting firm Avalere Health. I think most providers are at this point girding themselves by trying to reduce costs.
While Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program are exempt from the talks, most other health programs will be affected.
The sequester includes a 2 percent cut to Medicare, as well as much larger cuts to federal healthcare agencies. The Medicare cut is big $11 billion just this year, according to the White House budget office but the agency cuts are more unpredictable.
The Food and Drug Administration, for example, would have to absorb an 8 percent cut this year. Most of its expenses are people, not programs, so employees would have to be laid off or furloughed. Those losses could cause delays in the approval of new drugs and medical devices.
The FDA is having enough trouble retaining their good people, Mendelson said. I would expect approval times to suffer as a result.
Longer reviews are dangerous to drug companies that are hoping to bring new products to market. The FDA would also have to conduct about 2,100 fewer food safety inspections, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department.
Sequestration would also make some big cuts to part of President Obamas healthcare law. Grants to help states establish insurance exchanges would be slashed by $66 million, and the laws prevention and public health trust fund would lose $76 million.
Mendelson said he doesnt expect sequestration to slow implementation of the law.
There are also lingering questions about how the Medicare agency would implement a 2 percent Medicare cut.
If the agency meets that target by cutting evenly across all of its accounts, every doctor and hospital would see a cut of roughly 2 percent. But theres some concern that such an even distribution wont be possible, and some sectors could end up taking a bigger hit than others.
One healthcare lobbyist said hospitals are worried that theyll end up with especially big cuts, largely because other parts of the Medicare program run on contracts that have already been set.
Medicares drug benefit, for example, would be hard to cut until drug makers renegotiate their contracts with the program later in the year
The consequences for doctors are probably more predictable than for other sectors, experts said, but theyre still severe. Doctors would see their Medicare payments cut by roughly 2 percent a small enough cut to plan for, but one that follows on a series of previous reductions.
"If Congress does not act to stop the sequestration cuts, Medicare patients and physicians will suffer real consequences. Since 2001, Medicare payments for physician services have only increased by four percent, while the cost of caring for patients has increased by more than 20 percent. A two percent cut would only widen this already enormous gap between what Medicare pays and the cost of providing care to seniors.
The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association said in a joint study last year that their two industries would have to shed 211,000 jobs just this year if the sequester takes effect. They said the toll would rise every year as more of the sequesters cuts take effect, soon topping 300,000 jobs lost each year.
Advocates for medical research have also warned that sequestration would devastate important projects. The White Houses 2012 outline called for an 8 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health roughly $2.5 billion this year alone.
The group United for Medical Research said in a report last week that sequestrations cuts to the NIH budget could cost the country 20,000 jobs.
Yep, we’re all gonna die. It’s the same trick the banks pull on a willing Congress — keep the bailouts and spending coming, otherwise the destruction will be unimaginable.
We’re not buying it any more. Let’s just see if federal agencies can somehow manage on 100% of their 2012 “budget” plus “only” some fraction of the increase to the 2013 “budget”.
Has America become so weak and so dependent on government? A good portion of my diet consists of fish/game/seafood and things from my garden that have never seen a food inspector. Styrofoam trays and plastic wrap must lead to liberalism.
VA Gov McDonnell claims it will throw VA into a recession, Arne “Donut Hole” Duncan claims it will cost 40k teaching jobs, doctors claim ...
BS. None of these clowns went to stop the gravy train.
The tit will grow by a bit even with sequester.
A direct hit!!!
This article is pure unadulterated horse manure.
The whiners (spenders) pissed and moaned the same bulls**t when CO passed TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights).
I say that this is just a good start, and think that is the reason behind all the B.S. outcries and outright lies against it.
If we ever start to reduce the budget and the world doesn't end, then we might actually continue to reduce the size of FEDZILLA until it is once again within it's Constitutional bounds.
The leftistas can't stand the thought of that, and have pulled out all the stops and are full steam ahead towards our destruction. Bankrupting us is their engine of destruction.
For about four decades give or take, the medical profession, which is now referred to as the all encompassing and more wholesome sounding “healthcare” industry, been in the sack with big government, sometimes by coersion, sometimes willingly, and now they’re screaming bloody murder over pennies on the dollar they won’t get to feed the incestuous machine with 100% job security and perks.
Older docs or multiple generation docs like myself, will recall when insurance, private or public, would pay whatever they wanted, but doctors could bill "the balance" of whatever they wanted to charge to the patients. A free market determined how high those charges were, not some government or insurance company. What a strange concept! Removing that limitation wouldn't cost the government a cent. It actually would save them money as the Law of Supply and Demand will reduce demand for services if their costs to patients rises. Freedom works better than free stuff.
Leaving the ban in balance billing in place, while continuing to reduce allowable fees, isn't a baseline budgeting game, these are real cuts to doctors' incomes. At some level economic realities affect doctors like everyone else. Their only response can be to reduce the quantity and quality of services provided, either partially or completely by taking early retirement. Hospitals and ERs are REQUIRED to provide care regardless of the ability to pay. That also should end as it violates the 13th. Charity should be encouraged, but by definition it is not charity when mandatory.
There used to be a LOT of free care given by doctors, hospitals, etc. This I know as a fourth generation physician. Admittedly 'free' was a lot cheaper to provide then, with less paperwork and regulations. Those then dependent on charity were encouraged to act in ways that made others feel charitable towards them. If you were down on your luck for reasons beyond your control, and in spite of your best efforts, you'd likely receive help. If you were known to be wasting your money on booze, too lazy to work, etc. you were less likely. That feedback produced laudable effects on society.
Charity to the poor shouldn't be encouraged for just medical providers. Some say health care is a special case because it is so essential. Yet big government types push loads of their products as "essential." If I, as a dermatologist, am expected to be providing free care for someone's acne, shouldn't the the supermarket (and its wholesalers) be providing them with free food and medicine, the mall be providing them with free shoes and clothing, their teachers be taking zero salary for their education, the social workers coordinating their freebies be working gratis, the government be waving gasoline taxes so they can get to all of these, etc.
There are no FREAKING cuts! We are still spending more than last year. Give me control of the budget and I will give you some real cuts! 10% across the board to start and I will balance the budget in 48 hours!
Even if it was 85 billion, which it is not (its 44 billion this year) 85 billion dollars against a 3.6 trillion dollar expenditure is a freaking rounding error. And we are to believe that such a small amount will cause air traffic controllers to be furloughed, meat/food inspectors to be cut, first responders etc, yada yada. GIVE ME A BREAK! It’s all BS. It’s ridiculous. It,s insulting to our intelligence.THEY THINK WERE STUPID!