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Protecting Medicaid: Your Toolkit to Preserve and Expand Care for Seniors, Kids and Working Pennsylvanians
As part of last year’s politically-charged debate over raising the debt ceiling to protect America’s credit rating (something that had bipartisan support for over a decade), legislators laid down an inflexible set of demands for future deficit-reduction. A Congressional “Super Committee” was tasked with coming up with a plan to reduce the deficit, but they failed, and as a result, $1.2 trillion in cuts -- over the next 10 years -- to discretionary spending (shared between defense and non-defense programs) will begin phasing in on Jan. 1, 2013.
While Medicaid and Social Security are protected from the across-the-board cuts, certain parts of Medicare were not. This means that if a new, long-term deficit deal is not reached, Medicare providers (hospitals, care facilities, nursing homes and doctors) will face a 2% cut in reimbursements, totaling about $11 billion in 2013.
Even more concerning, however, is the prospect of doctors facing a 27% cut in their Medicare reimbursements, thanks to a payment formula put in place in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. Since 2002, Congress has stepped in to stave off scheduled cuts -- what’s come to be known as the annual “doc fix” -- but this previously-bipartisan effort was also much more difficult last year, and ultimately paid for by cuts to other health care programs.
While these cuts to providers would certainly have a negative impact on patients, the possibility of putting Medicaid and Medicare back on the table in new deficit negotiations are much more scary, and could put the quality of seniors’ care at risk.
Medicaid is what enables the majority of our seniors to afford long-term care, and the two biggest costs for long-term care providers are staffing and supplies. Arbitrary cuts would force providers to do more with less, potentially cut corners, and put seniors’ and caregivers in a bad situation.
And Medicare has been the foundation of middle class security for decades. The way to strengthen these programs to meet the demands of the future is to build on the reforms the Affordable Care Act puts in place -- to make sure we’re rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, and by delivering better care, in better, more efficient ways.