Now that we’ve nosedived from the fiscal cliff, we have the impending sequestration to look forward to. In layman’s terms, sequestration refers to $85 million worth of federal budget cuts that will likely go into effect March 1. The cuts will be divided evenly between defense and domestic programs, and WILL affect healthcare to some degree. Affected agencies will implement the cuts – a predicted 9 percent for non-defense programs – over the seven months left in the fiscal year.
Take a look at just a few of the healthcare areas sequestration is likely to affect:
Back in September, Representative and physician Phil Gingrey (R) noted that providers in Georgia had bigger concerns than the possible affects of sequestration, including Medicare physician payment cuts, struggling to meet Meaningful Use deadlines and transitioning to the new ICD-10 coding system.
Now that sequestration is just a few days away, are providers paying more attention? What will these cuts mean for healthcare in Georgia? No matter how you slice and dice the figures, one thing is clear when it comes to sequestration – patients will bear the brunt of cuts made to healthcare programs.
Doctors that see lower Medicare reimbursements may stop seeing as many Medicare beneficiaries, leaving those patients in need of a new, now harder-to-find, care provider. If healthcare jobs do indeed dry up in Georgia, patients will only find it that much harder to make an appointment with a provider, resulting in overcrowded ERs. They may also find care hard to come by as their local community health centers close up shop or scale back services.
Meredith Ley, a reporter with WSAV in Savannah, highlighted the impact to patients in Savannah in a recent interview with Susan Alt of the Coastal Health District.
Once again, healthcare finds itself in need of a quick solution to fix a problem that’s been around for quite some time – providing accessible, affordable, quality care to Georgia’s citizens.