After failing in October to shift $247 billion in the cost of health care legislation to a seperate bill that would avoid scheduled cuts to doctor’s payments under Medicare, House Democrats have inserted a measure in the must-past defense appropriations bill that would delay the cuts.
In 1998, Congress voted to contain the growth rate of doctors payments through Medicare, but it has consistently voted to avoid the cuts under pressure from doctors’ groups. This reality undermines Democratic claims that Congress will actually be able to enact the hundreds of billions in proposed cuts to Medicare that are essential to the larger health care bill being deficit neutral.
Unable to pass a long-term measure on the issue, Democrats have tacked onto the $636 billion defense appropriations bill a measure that would delay the scheduled doctor payment cuts until Feb. 28, so that they can deal with the issue next year. Having passed the House, the bill now moves to the Senate, where it has to pass by tomorrow to keep funds flowing to the military.