$85 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts to government spending will be triggered on Friday. The cuts, known as sequestration, are set to begin March 1 unless Congress intervenes. If the cuts are applied, physicians, hospitals and other providers will see 2 percent reductions to their Medicare payments in early April. The 2 percent Medicare provider cuts are part of broader cuts required under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which will dramatically reduce domestic and defense spending to eliminate a total of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a final rule today on essential health benefits as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rule outlines policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits, which are a core set of benefits that must be covered in 2014 by individual and small group plans. There are 10 categories of care that must be covered, including ambulatory patient services, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and more. Learn more from HHS’s fact sheet.