Sequester-driven budget cuts to Medicare are threatening to spur massive job cuts in the healthcare industry.
And the pain doesn't stop there - the sequester cuts are already making healthcare harder to obtain for some Medicare patients.
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. The longer Congress allows sequestration to continue, the deeper the cuts will go and the more widespread their impact.
When President Barack Obama and Congress failed to reach agreement on $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal spending before March 30 -- as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 -- the sequester kicked in.
Medicare providers faced mandatory 2% across-the-board reductions in their reimbursements.
After the cuts went into effect on April 1, hospitals, doctors, insurers, prescription drug plans, and other healthcare providers immediately felt the impact.
In short, the sequester is delivering precisely the kind of broad, damaging and indiscriminate cuts that politicians warned would happen.
And as each day passes, the drastic consequences grow worse.
Sequestration Cuts Hit Cancer Patients While Billions Wasted
As of April 1, cancer clinics began turning away thousands of Medicare patients because of sequestration spending cuts while the University of Iowa is using almost $900,000 of taxpayer money to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails.
It's taken about a month, but the mandated federal spending cuts of sequestration have finally started to have a real impact.
Not as dire an impact as President Barack Obama warned about in the weeks preceding the sequester, but the consequences are growing more serious every day.
But what's most galling about all this is that despite the real harm the sequestration cuts are causing, wasteful government spending has continued unabated.
The 9 Biggest Sequestration Lies
Though we've come to expect no better from our leaders in Washington, the sequestration lies rank among the most blatant whoppers ever to come out of the nation's capital.
Sequestration, of course, is the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to go into effect at midnight Friday.
Instead of working together to come up with an alternative to replace the sequester, Republicans and Democrats have spent the past several weeks playing a maddening game of political chicken.
Both parties were counting on the fear of sequestration to force the other to cave before it happened.
Toward that end, leaders of both sides have tried to sway public opinion with exaggerations, obfuscations and outright lies.
Yes, business as usual in Washington, but an affront to U.S. citizens nonetheless.
Here are some of the biggest sequestration lies.
What Does the Sequestration Mean for Investors?
After months of bitter debate and warnings of impending economic doom, sequestration is expected to arrive Friday. What's it mean for investors?
Martin Hutchinson explains how to protect your portfolio...
The Sequester: What the President Should Do – But Won't
It's just days before the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as sequester are set to kick in and the Obama administration says the reductions would drastically hurt essential programs, including national defense, education and medical research.
Republicans, meanwhile, maintain that U.S. President Barack Obama doesn't recognize the problem isn't the sequester.
It's "an excessive, bloated, big federal government that's highly inefficient and highly ineffective," according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, on FOX News Sunday.
While Coburn said he would rein in spending through a different method than the sequester, some GOP lawmakers are ready to let the automatic spending cuts take effect in their current form.
As Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson explained in the accompanying video, the sequester should have been made part of a long-term deficit reduction plan.
The Sequestration Follies: How Washington Outsmarted Itself
It seems every politician in Washington is up in arms over sequestration, the devastating automatic budget cuts on track to take effect March 1.
For weeks, lawmakers on both sides have been calling sequestration a "bad idea" and criticizing any proposals put forth by the opposing party.
Politicians aren't happy that sequestration not only would cut billions of dollars in federal spending, it would also slash the budget indiscriminately with across-the-board cuts.
Just today (Tuesday), President Barack Obama urged Congress to delay sequestration for the rest of the year or risk damaging the U.S. economy.
"It won't help the economy. It won't create jobs. It will visit hardship on a whole lot of people," President Obama said. "If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research."
Listening to all the rhetoric, Americans with short memories might believe that those in Washington only have the best interests of the country at heart.
But the rest of us remember how this whole sequestration fiasco really happened. It was their idea - Republicans and Democrats, the White House and Congress. All guilty.
"The idea was that no sane person would allow such cuts to happen," Bob Schieffer, host of CBS News' "Face the Nation," said on that show Sunday. "Well, guess what. Even Washington managed to underestimate its own ineptitude."