Medicare Cut for Physicians Helps Balance New Budget Deal
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 09:06 AM

A bipartisan, 2-year budget deal that averts a default on federal debt, keeps the government running, and relaxes automatic spending limits hinges in part on a future Medicare pay cut for physicians.

The agreement extends the federal government's ability to borrow money through March 2017. It also allows military and domestic spending to exceed so-called sequestration caps by $80 billion over the next 2 years, potentially benefiting underfunded programs such as the National Institutes of Health. The sequestration relief is paid for over the next 10 years through a variety of budget ploys, all in the name of avoiding red ink. For example, the government would sell off 58 million barrels of oil from its emergency reserves over 6 years beginning in fiscal 2018.

And once again, lawmakers plan to shake some money loose from the Medicare piggy bank. The agreement keeps in place an annual 2% sequestration cut for Medicare providers an extra year, through fiscal 2025. This reduction, also part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, originally was set to expire in fiscal 2021, but Congress repeatedly extended it, most recently until fiscal 2024. 

The bill also spares Medicare beneficiaries from a dramatic spike in monthly premiums next year.