HealthDay News — Failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 will have a substantial effect on health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, according to a report published by the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP).

“Failure to stabilize our economy prior to October 17, 2013, will have a significant impact on our nation’s health care programs—especially Medicare and Medicaid. A stable economy and a fully functioning government are essential to meeting the nation’s promises and obligations to patients who depend on Medicare or Medicaid for their health care,” the AAFP said in the statement.

Emergency measures enacted by the Treasury Department in May 2013 will run out on Oct. 17, 2013, at which point all spending will be on hold until sufficient tax revenues are collected to cover pending financial obligations.

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If lawmakers do not raise the debt ceiling, thereby allowing the Treasury to cover the government’s current monthly expenses, there will be significant effects on the nation’s health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

“The AAFP believes that action must be taken to prevent dramatic reductions in payments to family physicians who provide care to these vulnerable patients,” the AAFP said.

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