Congressional Inaction and its Impact on PD
Dear Parkinson's Community,
As you all know from the news media, Congress is not expected to act on the end-of-year ‘fiscal cliff’ issues until after Christmas, at the earliest. This makes the PAN staff concerned that an agreement to avoid the draconian impacts of sequestration will not be reached before the arbitrary cuts take effect on January 2, 2013. Just to recap, if an agreement is not reached, we will see:
- A cut of $2.5 billion to the budget for the National Institutes of Health, translating to about 33,000 jobs across the country;
- A cut of $318 million to the Food and Drug Administration program that reviews and approves new therapies; and
- An across-the-board cut of 2% to Medicare providers.
In addition to these cutbacks, there will be other repercussions of this irresponsible governmental inaction for the PD community. Routinely, Congress acts in December to raise two Medicare reimbursement limits that are important to our community, but that has not happened this year. Unless this is rectified, on January 1:
- A harmful cap on Medicare-reimbursed therapy will apply to our community. Because 25% of Medicare beneficiaries with Parkinson’s exceed this benefit cap, people with Parkinson’s and other conditions are normally granted eligibility for an exception
- Physicians and hospitals will face a 26.5% cut in pay for treating Medicare patients. This would be on top of the 2% cut that Medicare payments are already facing under sequestration. Congress traditionally raises the payment rate annually.
It is unrealistic to think that people with Parkinson’s will not be impacted by both of these Medicare payment changes, yet this seems to be the road that we are about to go down.
PAN is not asking you to take any action today; Congress and the Administration have essentially closed up shop until next week. But, we will be watching the discussions carefully and will reach out to you after they return with a request for communication to your Members of Congress. I hope that you will respond. This is too important to not keep trying.
In the meantime, I wish all of you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.
Amy Comstock Rick