Federal Default Regarding Medicare Checks

It seems that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have been ordered to delay certain payments until the next fiscal year begins:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been instructed by the United States Congress in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005, to place a brief hold on Medicare payments for ALL claims (e.g., initial claims, adjustment claims, and Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) claims) for the last 9 days of the Federal fiscal year, i.e., September 22, 2006 through September 30, 2006. Noridian Administrative Services (NAS) will release the held payments on Monday, October 2, 2006 including all payments that normally would be scheduled for release on that date.

So please explain why a nine-day hold on Medicare payments has been ordered by Congress if – as has been claimed – the Federal government has done such a wonderful job at reducing the deficit.

Update: CalculatedRisk spots more creative accounting:

The non-Social Security off-budget expenditures have increased dramatically this year. My guess is the gap will be close to $160 Billion by the end of the fiscal year. Perhaps this is due to expenditure related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that might be off-budget. Or maybe this is a little Enron-style creative accounting. I don’t know. But I’d like to know.

Someone call Arthur Andersen!