By Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News
Whatever the outcome on November 6th, officials in Washington will still have to deal with a looming “fiscal cliff” before the end of the year.
What’s coming is a perfect storm of expiring tax cuts, scheduled budget cuts, and various other spending changes scheduled to take place Jan. 1 unless Congress and President Obama (who, no matter what, will still be president until next Jan. 20) agree on a way to avert them.
As two of the largest spending items in the federal budget, the Medicare and Medicaid health programs are expected to play a role in how the deal gets done. Under the provisions of the law that created the budget deal Congress will attempt to undo, Medicare is subject to a two percent cut in provider payments, while Medicaid is exempt.
But two new studies and a proposed class action lawsuit settlement suggest a lot of dollar signs could change as lawmakers start to think about how to address the impending mess. Continue reading