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The Surgi Sound Off blog is an open forum for ambulatory surgery center professionals to share personal insight and expertise within the ASC community. These columns also appear in our weekly subscription-based enewsletter. Please note that the opinions of our bloggers may not always reflect SurgiStrategies' position.

Contact Editor in Chief Karen Butler (kbutler@vpico.com) to see how you can become a Surgi Sound Off blogger.

Super Committee – Not So Super After All

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By Karen Butler

I'm sure many of you join me in being completely unsurprised that the super committee could not reach a consensus about how to trim $1.2 trillion in the next decade from the federal budget deficit. It seems the Democrats wanted huge tax increases more than finding common ground with Republicans who were looking instead to cut spending. Of course, those cuts would have impacted Medicare benefits, which will now likely be affected by default through automatic cuts starting in 2013.

Whether no deal is better than a bad deal remains to be seen. (Obamacare, anyone?) According to Kaiser Health News, "Two major health entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid, have protections under the law that set up the super committee. Automatic cuts would not affect Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and Medicare spending would be cut by 2 percent – all from payments to hospitals and other care providers. But unless Congress steps in to rework the legislation mandating the automatic cuts, a series of across-the-board reductions would kick in 2013. The House and Senate appropriations committees will have to decide how to spread the cuts among various programs. And some of the larger, better-financed lobbies may have the upper hand."

It also remains to be seen if the 27.4 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians will take effect this January, or if the current administration will patch things up with the SGR again. Even if an ASC doesn't anticipate immediate repercussions from all the potential changes, there will certainly be ramifications on some level, as healthcare as a whole – and its patients – navigate the changes.

What are your thoughts? Use the comments feature to weigh in.

Karen Butler (kbutler@vpico.com) is the editor in chief of SurgiStrategies magazine.

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