Negotiators from the House and Senate reached an agreement just hours before the government was set to shut down to continue funding the federal government for the next fiscal year. The agreement includes $1.043 trillion in spending, but does not include changes to the sustainable growth rate, (aka ‘doc fix’) nor extensions to the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits. Negotiators were still working to reach agreement on these additional issues, the main focus of the negotiations is the length of the extensions and how to pay for them, not whether to work to extend them.
Congressional Republicans propose to cut nearly $38 billion from the Affordable Care Act, increase premiums for wealthy Medicare beneficiaries and change the formula by which unemployment benefits are calculated in exchange for a 2 year ‘doc fix’ and one year extensions of the other provisions. Democrats recently backed off their proposal to raise taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year, but still advocate using more than $40 billion in projected savings from the early removal of troops from Iraq. Additional cuts to Medicare provider reimbursements are not currently part of the negotiations, so at the moment O&P providers are being spared the budget ax. With both sides eager to adjourn for their extended holiday break, the spending bill will be voted on and passed today to avert government shutdown at midnight tonight. An agreement funding the rest of these must-pass items could be reached today or over the weekend. A temporary 2 month extension of the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits and the “doc fix” is being prepared in the event negotiators cannot reach a longterm agreement before adjournment. MORE