If the federal government defaults, Iowans on Medicare could be impacted

IOWA CITY — Federal lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on lifting the debt ceiling, which could impact some Iowans’ health care. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warns if lawmakers don’t come to an agreement, the US could be unable to pay its bills as soon as June 1st.

The director of the National Health Law and Policy Resource Center at the University of Iowa College of Law Josephine Gittler says this could impact federally-funded health programs like Medicare. “Because Medicare makes up so much of what hospitals and other health care providers receive for their services,” she says, “that they would then either not get the money that they’re owed, or they would have delays, possibly in payments.”

In addition to Medicare, Gittler says a federal government default could affect Iowans who rely on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act subsidized health plans.  “In a worst case scenario, the system is at risk,” she says, “the whole healthcare system is at risk if it loses a major source of its funding for its infrastructure, so to speak.”

Gittler says it’s unclear what will happen if lawmakers don’t reach an agreement because the federal government has never defaulted on its debt before