Why Federal Debt Default Is a Crisis for Family Medicine

debt-advocacy-2013

Why Federal Debt Default Is a Crisis for Family Medicine


On October 17, 2013, emergency borrowing against the federal debt ceiling will expire, which may put Medicare and Medicaid patient care in jeopardy.

Time and Money Are Running Out

If lawmakers fail to increase the debt limit, the government will have to stop, limit, or delay payments on a broad range of obligations, including Medicare and Medicaid benefits and Social Security. 

In May 2013, the U.S. government reached its debt ceiling. At that time, the Treasury Department enacted emergency measures so that the United States could continue borrowing money. Those funds were used to cover the government’s bills. On October 17, 2013, however, the emergency measures will run out. Consequently, the Treasury Department will hold all spending until sufficient tax revenues are collected to cover all pending financial obligations.

Take Action Before It's Too Late

Use your voice to tell lawmakers in Congress and President Obama that you and your patients cannot afford to have the federal government fail to address the debt ceiling.

Send the provided prewritten Speak Out email to remind our leaders that long-term financial calamities need to be addressed now, before American families experience severe hardship.

SPEAK OUT ONLINE 

Urge your Senators and Representatives, and President Obama to resolve the debt crisis.


About the Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling is the amount of money the U.S. government is permitted to borrow. It is currently set at $16.7 trillion. This money is used to cover payments for national financial obligations, including Medicare and Medicaid benefits, Social Security, and interest on the national debt.

In 1917, Congress created an upper limit (i.e., ceiling) to federal borrowing because of the financial uncertainties of U.S. involvement in World War I. Since 1960, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times. Raising the debt ceiling does not increase the national debt; it only allows the Treasury Department to cover the government’s current monthly expenses. The national debt will continue to exist, whether the debt ceiling is raised or not. 

  

Why the AAFP Is Concerned

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 believes that action must be taken to prevent dramatic reductions in payments to family physicians who provide care to these vulnerable patients.