Last month, I wrote about the Congressional supercommittee’s plan to slash the budgetby $1.2 trillion and my concern that EHR incentives would be cut as part of the deal.
Well, today is the deadline for the committee to do something, and, as we could have guessed, there is no deal. EHR incentives are safe for the moment.
Now technically, the committee’s failure to act is supposed to trigger an automatic $1.2 trillion across-the-board cut. No one has been forthcoming on the details of those cuts but they’ll hit every corner of federal spending, from defense to Medicare to Social Security to Health and Human Services, which is where EHR funding comes from.
So there’s still a good chance that EHR incentives will get cut automatically, unless Congress acts.
And this time, I think they will.
Those automatic cuts won’t take effect until 2013 and the official spin coming out of Congress today is that after the 2012 elections, both sides will be better able to come to an agreement on the cuts.
The more likely scenario is that while no one is looking, they’ll quietly overturn the law requiring those automatic cuts. They can do that fairly easily through filibusters or appropriations – basically wrapping the “undo” clause into other bills.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the economy starts to improve, the deficit reductions will be less vital and we may end up keeping all of the EHR incentives – and more importantly, the Medicare and Medicaid funding.
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