Time ticked down to March 1 -- also known as sequestration D-day -- without the White House and lawmakers finding a way to avert the scheduled cuts.
The Wall Street Journal: Cuts Roll In As Time Runs Out
The federal government enters a controversial new phase of deficit cutting Friday, as an automatic trigger begins slicing budgets in some areas while leaving programs such as Medicare and Medicaid-;among the largest drivers of future debt-;largely untouched (Paletta and Hook, 2/28).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Still Betting On A Big Fiscal Deal As Automatic Cuts Kick In, But Odds Weigh Against Him
A fiscal deadline all but blown, President Barack Obama says he once again wants to seek a big fiscal deal that would raise taxes and trim billions from expensive and ever growing entitlement programs. But with automatic federal spending cuts ready to start taking their toll, the path toward that grand bargain Obama campaigned on last year has significantly narrowed. The president has summoned the top bipartisan congressional leadership to the White House, a meeting designed to give all sides a chance to stake out their fiscal positions with a new threat of a government shutdown less than four weeks away. There were no expectations of a breakthrough (3/1).
The New York Times: Boehner Halts Talks On Cuts, And House GOP Cheers
Speaker John A. Boehner, the man who spent significant portions of the last Congress shuttling to and from the White House for fiscal talks with President Obama that ultimately failed twice to produce a grand bargain, has come around to the idea that the best negotiations are no negotiations (Parker, 2/28).
USA Today: Senate Rejects Sequester Alternatives
The Democratic alternative would have replaced the cuts, known as the sequester, with a combination of a minimum 30% tax on millionaires and cuts to defense and farm programs. It failed 51-49. The Republican alternative would have transferred sweeping authority to President Obama to force him to determine how to implement $85 billion in cuts instead of the across-the-board spending cut affecting most reaches of the federal government. The sequester exempts military personnel accounts and the social safety net including Social Security and Medicare. The GOP measure also failed, 38-62 (Davis, 2/28).
Boston Globe: Sequester's Long-Term Effects Still Unclear
For some, the sky is falling. But for many others, the budget cuts will hardly register. That may explain why legislative efforts to forestall the cuts this week were barely evident, despite dire warnings from President Obama and administration officials. … Medicaid and Social Security benefits won't be touched by the cuts, while Medicare payments to health providers will drop 2 percent. Head Start, the federally funded early childhood education initiative, will also see budget cuts, leaving 1,100 Massachusetts children out of the program this year, according to the White House (Uberti, 3/1).
CBS News: 4 Possible Silver Linings In The Sequester
The dreaded sequester takes effect today as $85 billion in automatic cuts to 2013 federal spending begin rolling in, slashing services and sowing all manner of chaos, according to government officials who have warned for months about the harmful economic impact of allowing the cuts to proceed. Nobody is particularly happy about it. President Obama and congressional Democrats have sounded the alarm most urgently. ... During the negotiations that produced the sequester, Democrats successfully pushed to exempt most forms of politically sensitive entitlement spending from the automatic cuts. As a result, Social Security, Medicaid, veterans' benefits, unemployment insurance, and food stamps will not see any reduction in funding. Medicare beneficiaries were also spared the axe, while Medicare providers will see only a 2 percent reduction in payments. Mr. Obama's healthcare bill, some recall, also opted to slash payments to Medicare providers in lieu of targeting beneficiaries (Miller, 3/1).
Medscape: Medicare Pay Cut From Sequester To Go Into Effect March 1
The US Senate rejected two competing proposals today that would have replaced the "sequester" -; $85 billion worth of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect March 1. Barring some last-minute rescue, that means Medicare reimbursement for physicians and other healthcare providers will decrease by 2%. The scheduled 2% reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians and other providers presumably would apply to all services rendered, beginning March 1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had no comment as yet on how the pay cut would be implemented (Crane, 2/28).
Kaiser Health News: Hospital Executive Bracing For Budget Cuts Says 'We Need To Deal With Medicare'
David P. Blom is one of thousands of hospital executives across the country who are bracing for a reduction in Medicare payments as part of a series of federal spending cuts that begin Friday. Blom, 58, is president and chief executive officer of OhioHealth, a Columbus, Ohio, based not-for-profit health care system that includes 18 hospitals, 23 health and surgery centers, home-health providers and other facilities (Carey, 3/1).