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Washington Update: What's in store under sequestration?

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | February 28, 2013
Loren Bonner
Many in the health care world are probably not looking forward to March 1. That's the day $85 billion in automatic spending cuts take effect. The hope is that Congress will be able to reach a deal by Friday to thwart the cuts -- which affect everything from health care to defense -- but that's looking very unlikely at this point.

The sentiment in Washington is grim. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month outlining how the cuts, also known as sequestration, will affect health care for Americans. The cuts include a 2 percent payment reduction to doctors and hospitals that provide care to Medicare patients. This is probably a shock to many folks since Medicaid is usually the first thing on the chopping block when Washington talks about cutting federal health care programs. But it looks like this time around Medicare may be cut to preserve Medicaid, which will see a slew of new patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act next year.

AdvaMed, a medical device trade lobby, dedicated most of its media briefing on Tuesday talking about how sequestration cuts to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will impact the timely reviews of medical devices. The list of trade associations and medical groups trying to convince Congress about how harmful these cuts are goes on and on. We'll have to wait until Friday to see what happens.

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