BREAKING: Deficit Committee Failure Leaves Looming Cuts to Health Care Programs

 

The congressional “super committee” charged with reducing the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion announced that its members were unable to reach an agreement before Monday’s self-imposed deadline. In a joint statement issued Monday, Representative Jeb Hensarling and Senator Patty Murray stated that “(a)fter months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

The failure of the committee, composed of six Republicans and six Democrats, to find a middle ground means that $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts included in the bill should become effective in January 2013. While some legislators are planning to introduce legislation that would repeal some of the automatic cuts, President Obama vowed that he will veto any such measure.

The automatic cuts will evenly reduce defense and domestic spending with the congressional appropriations committees deciding precisely how to apply the cuts. The Medicaid and Social Security programs are exempt from the automatic budget cuts, but Medicare payments to hospitals and providers are scheduled to be cut by 2%. The American Medical Association has expressed concerns that the committee’s failure was also a failure to avert the impending 27% cut to Medicare payments scheduled for January 2012.

According to Kaiser Health News, many health advocates are fearful that cuts to discretionary health programs could be severe and result in the reduction of investment and services to programs affecting public health, medical research and HIV/AIDS treatment, among others.

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