The nation breathed a sigh of relief last week when politicians passed the bill that would keep us from dropping off of the “fiscal cliff” and crippling our economy. This bill made the Bush administration’s tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less than $450,000 permanent. It also increased the taxes from 35% to 39.6% for people making more than that specified amount (CNN news, Obama Signs Bill Warding Off Fiscal Cliff).
While this change in taxes is beneficial for most Americans, the bill that prevented our plunge off of the fiscal cliff also brought about some changes to health care programs. Not all of these changes are negative. One of the tweaks that received the most attention is that doctors who treat Medicare patients will NOT receive a cut in their pay. This is arguably one of the most beneficial aspects of the new bill. “A pay cut [that] big would almost certainly drive doctors to stop taking new Medicare patients and perhaps even to drop existing ones” (NPR, Bargain Over Fiscal Cliff Brings Changes to Health Care). However, the bill did not eliminate the possibility of doctors losing pay for Medicare patients, but rather just postponed the discussion for another year.
In all of the hustle over the Medicare portion of the fiscal cliff deal, many people did not realize that a medical program was cut from the budget entirely. The CLASS Act was a program that provided publicly administered, long-term-care insurance at a modest cost (NPR). This was a product that provided for seniors and people with disabilities during the times that they were not in the doctor’s office or the hospital. It was long term care that bridged that gap between all of the other medical coverage that is offered.
The problem? Some members of the committee found that the CLASS Act would not pay for itself. It was seen as an potentially endless government aid program, which would not be beneficial when trying to reduce our government’s debt. That is not to say that there will be no long-term medical care for people in need. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is in charge of working with a bipartisan committee to create a new program for long-term health care that will still benefit people in need without putting as much financial strain on our national debt.
If you are concerned about your health care coverage or about any implications that this new bill might have caused to your coverage, please contact our office immediately. We will gladly assist you with finding the answers that you need and going over the different options that you have in regards to health care coverage.