Even the Washington Post takes issue with Senate Majority Harry Reid moving a seperate $247 health care bill to prevent scheduled cuts to doctor’s payments under Medicare. In an editorial today, the newspaper exposes the absurdity of his argument that the bill does not have anything to do with health care reform:
Mr. Reid’s attempt to distinguish the budgetary and regulatory issues is nonsensical. The health reform measure includes all sorts of changes in the ways that various providers are compensated. True, the problem with inadequate Medicare payments is something of a preexisting condition to health reform, but that does not make it unrelated. The so-called doc fix is being rushed to the Senate floor this week in advance of health reform not because it has nothing to do with health reform but because it has everything to do with it. The political imperative is twofold: to make certain that Republicans don’t use the physician payment issue to bring down the larger bill and to placate the American Medical Association.
This latest maneuver only heightens the fiscal irresponsibility of what already was a fiscal sleight of hand. The measure passed by the Senate Finance Committee patched the problem for one year, at a cost just shy of $11 billion. The argument was that the rest of the problem could be dealt with — and, at least in theory, paid for — later. Now, Mr. Reid proposes not to pay for any of it, not even $11 billion, but simply to write a $247 billion IOU.
Were the so-called “doc fix” combined with the larger bill, it would bring the total cost of health care legislation to well over $1 trillion, and add significantly to deficits, in clear violation of President Obama’s pledge.
Reid had originally scheduled a cloture vote on the bill for this afternoon, but the Hill reports that it’s been delayed.