If Congress fails to reach an agreement on sequestration cuts before the end of March, AANEM members will face additional Medicare reimbursement cuts.
Although Congress recently voted to “patch” the Medicare physician reimbursement rates, allowing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) to remain untouched in 2013
, they left one important item unresolved—sequestration cuts. During the 2011 session of Congress, intense negotiation surrounding the federal debt ceiling resulted in the creation of a sequester, or an automatic cut, to some federal program spending—over the next 10 years.*
Sequestration includes an immediate 2% cut to Medicare spending, which can only be avoided if Congress passes legislation that undoes the legal requirements of the Budget Control Act of 2011. During its January negotiations, Congress deferred sequestration cuts for just two months.
“A 2% cut may seem modest, especially when compared to potential budget stringency in the future,” said Catherine French, MAPL, AANEM’s senior analyst-medical economic affairs. “However, the long-term effect of the cuts could be substantial as the cost of patient care continues to rise.”
Your Immediate Action Requested
“Your federal legislators will be back in their home districts and states during the week of February 18,” French noted. “So it’s the best time to communicate with them about the impact of sequestration on their constituents’ health.” Contact your members’ home offices and schedule an appointment with your elected official or their policy liaison to discuss:
The already enacted 40-70% reimbursement cuts to electrodiagnostic procedures;
The 2% Medicare sequestration cuts that will take place unless Congress acts by March 31.
The impact of these cuts on patient care.
Additionally, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has stated that the sequestration cuts would reduce National Institute of Health (NIH) funding by more than $1.5 billion in 2013. These cuts would have a disproportionate impact on medical schools and teaching hospitals, which conduct more than half of the research funded by NIH. Likewise, cutting Medicare support for GME and hospital outpatient payments would have a disproportionate impact on academic medical centers. AANEM members concerned about these additional cuts should use AAMC’s pre-drafted message
to contact your members of Congress to describe the consequences of sequestration on medical research.
*Under this fiscal policy, money equal to the difference between the cap set in the Budget Resolution Act and the amount actually appropriated is "sequestered" by the Treasury and not handed over to agencies to which it was originally appropriated by Congress.