Reason‘s Peter Suderman draws attention to the news that the Senate approved a plan to fund the “doc fix” — a measure to prevent drastic cuts to Medicare payments to doctors — by reducing funds dedicated to the health insurance exchanges set up by Obamacare. Suderman notes that this doc fix was a point of contention during the Obamacare debate. Republicans argued that it should be added to the cost of the bill, while Democrats insisted otherwise:
Democrats argued that the doc fix was a separate issue, unrelated to the new law and therefore unnecessary to include in the bill or the cost estimates. But that was pretty hard to believe: Reports indicated that Harry Reid had used the doc fix to buy support for the health care overhaul from the American Medical Association, and an early draft had included a fix. The cost proved to be too much.
And as of this week, it’s even harder to buy the line that the doc fix is somehow unrelated to the new health care law: Senate leadership has reportedly reached a deal to delay the called-for cuts and pay for a one year extension of Medicare’s payment rates. And they’re paying for it by taking money out of the health insurance subsidies included in the health care overhaul:
It seems to me there are two possibilities here: the doc fix should be included in the cost of Obamacare, or the Democrats should never be able to claim that they passed “comprehensive” health care reform. Medicare is a big part of health care in this country, and clearly it needs immediate reform.