Strohschein Law Group strives to keep you informed, and we just received this information regarding the sequester and how it will change how we all understand the administration of Social Security, Medicare, and Veteran’s programs. Below is an article shared by Elder Law Answers for your review along with a couple of useful links if you would like to look closer into the pressing transitions our country is facing.
Unless Democrats and Republicans can agree on an alternative, $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will kick in on March 1. We’ve heard the dire warnings about the impact: air travel delays, 70,000 children forced out of Head Start, cutbacks in food inspections, understaffed fire departments, 700,000 fewer jobs created . . . the list goes on.
How will programs that seniors rely on be affected? The good news is that big chunks of the budget are exempt from the sequester’s cuts, including Social Security, Medicaid, and veterans’ programs. But while there should be no change in benefits for these programs, the federal workforce that administers them would be slashed, leading to delays and frustration.
In the case of Social Security, for example, visitors to field offices or callers to the program’s 800-number would have longer waits, and some offices may close altogether. Checks for first-time Social Security beneficiaries would take longer to arrive and the backlog of Social Security disability claims would start ballooning again.
Medicare benefits would not change either, but there could be more crowded waiting rooms and fewer practitioners participating in the program because payments to Medicare providers will be cut by 2 percent across-the-board. Doctors and hospitals say the Medicare reductions will cost their industries more than 200,000 jobs this year alone. The threatened 2 percent cut for doctors follows a series of previous reductions, which may translate into more doctors refusing to take Medicare patients.
But the harshest impact would be on seniors who rely on federal programs to keep fed and stay warm (or cool).
Senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels would face cuts of more than $43 million, meaning that thousands of seniors could go hungry. Over the long-term, it could mean 4 million fewer meals for older people, according to the White House budget office. And an estimated 400,000 households would be cut from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which assists low-income seniors and other households with their heating and cooling bills.
The $85 billion in cuts on March 1 is just the beginning. Under the terms of the sequester, federal spending would be cut by $1.2 trillion from March 2013 to March 2021 in this same blunt fashion.
For AARP’s “What the ‘Sequester’ Could Mean for You,” visit http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-02-2013/how-the-sequester-could-affect-social-security-and-medicare.html
For “Questions and Answers About the Sequester” from The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/us/politics/questions-and-answers-about-the-sequester.html?_r=1&