Democrats tried to hide the “doc fix,” by simply not including it in the bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says when the $208 billion non-inclusions are added back into the legislation – or in a separate piece of legislation – the health care bill is $59 billion in the red – and actually could rise as high as $260 billion in the red over the next 10 years.
The “doc fix” is important. For years, Congress has routinely approved the “doc fix” which adjusts Medicare reimbursement to physicians so as not to punish them with large annual pay cuts. In July 2009, the “doc fix” was $245 billion. In November 2009 the “doc fix” was $210 billion. Just a few days ago, the cost was $371 billion. Mysteriously, today it is only $208 billion.
In July, the CBO refused to score health care without including the “doc fix,” because the “doc fix” is always paid, and will always be paid, unless Democrats can find a way to kill it. No one can seriously believe that Congress will cut pay to physicians 21%. Without the “doc fix,” why would a doctor care for a Medicare patient?
From the Republican Caucus Committee on the Budget via Questions and Observations via the CBO:
Contrary to recent claims, the Democratic health care overhaul will increase Federal deficits by at least $59 billion, and more likely $260 billion, over the next 10 years….
CBO also estimates the effect on the deficit if a number of other unrealistic policy changes, in addition to the 21 percent cut to physicians, made by the Majority are never implemented.
~questions Assumes the Cadillac tax is never implemented. Continuing to delay the start of their proposal to tax individuals’ higher-premium health insurance plans. Throughout the legislative process, the Cadillac tax has been delayed twice – first during floor debate and then as proposed by the President. Under the reconciliation bill, this new tax is not implemented until 2018.
~ Assumes the artificial slowing of the growth in subsidies does not occur. The bill currently removes the annual indexing of the subsidies. Throughout this process, the billhas been modified to increase subsidies in the near term, but reduce their growth in the out years.
~ Assumes unrealistic cuts made by a Medicare commission. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is tasked with unrealistic Medicare cuts that history tells us will never be implemented (e.g. doc fix).
If we owe $208 billion to doctors, does it matter whether it is in the health care bill or in a separate piece of legislation. The answer is yes. It matters because Democrats tried to hide the cost. It matters because many taxpayers will fail to add the two together. If the mantra remains that Health Care is budget neutral, when it is not, then it matters. There is nothing about the current health care legislation that is deficit neutral, as President Obama said it must be.
NRO has a good piece up about the “doc fix” and other problems with Democrat mathematics.
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Related and Background: