U.S. Treasury taking 'extraordinary measures' to keep paying Medicare providers

The U.S. hit its $31.4 billion debt limit, prompting the Treasury Department to employ accounting maneuvers designed to buy a few months' time for lawmakers to raise or suspend the cap, The New York Times reported Jan. 19.

"The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a letter to Congress. "I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States."

Those "extraordinary measures" are expected to enable the government to keep paying Medicare providers and other federal money recipients at least until June, the report said. Economists warn that the nation risks a crisis if lawmakers do not raise the limit before then.

House Republicans, narrowly in control of the chamber, have said they will not raise the limit again without assurances of deep spending cuts, the report said. President Joe Biden has said he will not negotiate conditions for a debt limit increase to cover spending that previous Congresses authorized.

The U.S. was last at risk of a debt limit crisis in 2021, when Republicans eventually conceded to an increase with no strings attached, the report said.

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