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House Joins Senate to OK Bill That Avoids Fiscal Cliff
Date:1/2/2013

cut in payments in fiscal year 2013. According to a September report from the Office of Management and Budget, hospitals would have been hit hardest by the cuts, with payments slashed by about $5.8 billion, Kaiser Health News reported.

Seniors would have experienced no changes in their benefits, however, and Medicaid would not have faced any automatic cuts on Jan. 1.

The National Institutes of Health would have had to contend with a $2.5 billion cut in funding for 2013, which would mean the agency would "have to halt or curtail scientific research," according to the OMB analysis.

Other federal agencies would have faced funding cuts as well, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($490 million), and the Food and Drug Administration ($318 million), Kaiser Health News said.

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, tried to put the debate over the fiscal cliff and its potential impact on health care in layman's terms.

"To some extent, talk of a 'fiscal cliff' and its implications can seem remote. But there is a very personal element to all of this. If Medicare reimbursement is slashed, the federal government will, in essence, be cutting the income -- along with raising the taxes -- of physicians who don't work for the federal government. This certainly makes Washington gridlock personal for all of my fee-for-service colleagues. If they, in turn, translate resentment of this heavy-handed imposition into practice, this may get personal for Medicare patients who have a harder time accessing care."

And, he added, "massive cuts to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) budget may seem remote and impersonal -- unless the research that isn't funded as a result would have saved your life, or that of someone you love. Cuts to CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) may seem remote -- unless you are a victim of a neglected disease outbreak,
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