Will Medicare pay physicians during the government shutdown?
Congress’ failure to pass legislation funding the government led to a shutdown of nonessential government services as of midnight, Oct. 1. Below we have answers for questions about what the shutdown means for primary care physicians and their patients.
Q: How will the shutdown affect payment of meaningful use incentives?
A: The payments are likely to continue, though Medical Economics is still waiting for a definitive answer. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some operations of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be suspended, but the meaningful use reimbursement programs are not among them.
Q: What happens to Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges as a result of the government shutdown?
A: They are open for business as planned. That’s because, as the Web site Politico explains, most of the funding sources that pay for the exchanges and other parts of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) are not part of the annual appropriations bills to fund the government. Congress’ inability to pass appropriations legislation for 2014 is what led to the shutdown.
Q: Will my Medicare reimbursements continue under a government shutdown?
A: Yes, at least for the short term. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contingency staffing plan for a shutdown, “In the short term, the Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption without disruption during a lapse in appropriations.” States also received their federal portion of funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program on October 1, because that money was appropriated last year.
Q: How will other government healthcare agencies be affected by the government shutdown?
A: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contingency staffing plan, 40,512 of the department’s 78,198 employees—slightly more than half—will be furloughed. Some agencies, including the Administration for Children and Families and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, would furlough “the vast majority of their staff” because they have large staffs The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have to delay its annual flu program, while continuing with minimum, but “significantly reduced” staff.
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