Friday, January 4, 2013


After intense negotiations, Congress has passed and the President signed into law a bill that averts the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The fiscal cliff was a drastic convergence of increased taxes and reduced spending that could have propelled the country into another recession. Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) led the final conversations and the deal includes compromises on both sides of the aisle.
The package contains several tax provisions including an extension of the Bush-era tax rates for individuals making $400,000 and less in annual income and families making $450,000 and less, as well as a five-year extension of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. The law also contains health and other provisions that impact the MS and disability communities. These include:
  • Physician Reimbursement: Avoiding a scheduled 26.5% cut to Medicare physicians (through December 31, 2013);
  • Therapy Caps: Extending a Medicare therapy cap exceptions process so that patients can continue to access needed outpatient physical, speech, and occupational therapy services (through December 31, 2013);
  • CLASS Program Repealed: Repealing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program, a voluntary long-term insurance program that would have provided a cash benefit to people who become functionally or cognitively impaired to help maintain community residence and independence;
  • Sequestration Delay: Delaying for two months scheduled across-the-board cuts (the “sequester”) to defense and non-defense programs including medical research; and
  • Limit on Itemized Deductions: Limiting itemized deductions for individuals making over $250,000 a year and families earning over $300,000 per year, but does not limit or cap the charitable deduction.
The Society is pleased that the cut to Medicare physicians and the Medicare therapy exceptions process were extended. A supporter of the CLASS program and its goal of helping people with disabilities stay in their communities and be independent, we are disappointed that the program is not currently solvent and had to be repealed. The law fortunately sets up a bipartisan commission tasked with developing legislative long-term care alternatives and we look forward to finding workable solutions to our nation’s long-term care crisis.
The 113th Congress was sworn in and commenced yesterday. With the across-the-board cuts only delayed for two months and the debt limit not increased, members will hit the ground running. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in with your members of Congress over the next several weeks. We will have to educate the new Congress about the importance of protecting medical research and programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Government needs to step back And quit taking away all of the programs that help us to Get better..... It seems they don't want us to be healed they want to keep us sick want to know what programs they will replace For each one They take away from us. I used to be in a wheelchair that my shot therapy and masssge therapy has made me 99 % better and in going Foreword if medications and If programs and monies be taken away and we will continue to be sick and not get better ever. So don't take away what makes us Healthy and have a chance to get 100 % better again.