On Thursday, October 17th, the federal government will exhaust its borrowing authority, and the Treasury Department will hit the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. TSCL members and supporters should be aware that if Congress fails to reach an agreement to extend the government’s borrowing authority, Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries may be negatively impacted.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, October 10th, and he stated: “In the last two weeks of October, we have large payments to Medicare providers, Social Security beneficiaries, and veterans, as well as salaries for active duty members of the military.” Once the government’s borrowing authority is reached, it must meet its obligations with the cash it has on hand, and payments to Medicare and other federal programs could fall to 70 or 80 percent of their current rates, Lew said. Social Security checks could be delayed, and reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients could be postponed. Doctors will likely continue providing services on time, but there is some concern that seniors’ access to medical care could be affected.
The Senior Citizens League is hopeful that leaders in Congress will reach a compromise before the October 17th deadline, preventing any negative impacts on Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. For updates on the evolving negotiations, visit the Legislative News section of our website.