Facility Dude

Long-term shutdown to lead to Medicare and Medicaid payment problems

By FacilityDude
Oct 15, 2013

Industry News

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As Congress continues to struggle with its attempt to come to an agreement on a spending plan, the federal government remains in shutdown mode. The House and Senate are currently at odds with each other, refusing to compromise over the Affordable Care Act, according to NBC News. With this stalemate, federal employees and private workers alike are now on the edge of their seats, anxiously awaiting the potential impact.

Among these worried individuals are those associated with the health care community. Because hospitals, clinics and their related personnel depend on government funding for being able to support their operations, they all have reason to be slightly concerned about the negative consequences that may come from the shutdown – or do they?

It is true that this suspension has tripped up health care facilities. A startling number of employees have been furloughed, making these federal organizations scramble to carry out their necessary functions. However, there are still approximately 1.3 million "essential" staff members on the job, which lessens the blow for these departments.

Obstacles ahead for health care providers

With all of that said, there are some hurdles for health care facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is responsible for paying health care providers for treating those covered by government-supported medical benefits. According to Becker's Hospital Review, this organization will no longer have the funding to reimburse patients' physician and prescription expenses.

CMS has a plan to continue dolling out money to health care professionals. These reimbursements will be prioritized based on how essential treatments are to saving and maintaining patient lives. As a result, they should be able to press on - for the immediate future, anyway. However, some Medicare and Medicaid payments will be delayed for medical care providers being accredited or recertified, as the agency won't be able to process the paperwork needed for receiving funding.

In addition to CMS, there are a number of other federal health care agencies that will be affected by the government shutdown, Becker's Hospital Review reports. These include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Without funding or normal personnel, these will not be working to their full potential.

Without receiving reimbursements, some health facilities may be tight on capital. To guarantee that they won't wipe out their budgets, managers should use their CMMS to examine their expenses and evaluate what needs to be done throughout their facilities. They can then prioritize their tasks and tweak their spending, ensuring that they will complete every task necessary to their operations without depleting their bank accounts.

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