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What the 'sequester' means for you ... and what won't change

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Why the cuts? Why now? Congress and President Obama agreed on the sequester way back in 2011 as a crude way of reducing chronic federal deficits, if the two sides couldn’t agree on a more elegant way. They haven't agreed yet. After some postponement, the deadline has finally arrived.

Here’s a rough guide to what sequestration will and won’t change, drawing on information from the Congressional Research Service and the White House.

WHAT'S EXEMPT FROM CUTS

Social Security. The program will keep paying old-age, survivors, and disability benefits. But it might be harder to get customer service help. The White House has warned that sequester would mean “a reduction in service hours to the public, and a substantial growth in the backlog of Social Security disability claims.”

Medicaid. Health insurance for low-income Americans will continue.

Medicare. Most Medicare funding for seniors will continue. Untouched are Medicare Part D low-income premium and cost-sharing subsidies; Medicare Part D catastrophic subsidy payments; and Qualified Individual (QI) premiums.

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