WaPo: Nancy Pelosi’s $300,000,000,000 deception
posted at 1:30 pm on November 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The Washington Post editorial board finally catches up to the big three-card Monte that Nancy Pelosi conducted in passing her ObamaCare bill over week ago. Last week, Byron York reported that Pelosi hid almost $300 billion in new health-care costs by burying the “doctor fix” in the debate rules for her Pelosi Plan. Now the Post blasts Congress for its dishonesty, and for mishandling the expensive addition that would make a mockery of the new deficit-hawk posing at the White House (via Conn Carroll):
HAVING PASSED a health reform bill that is, at least theoretically, paid for, the House of Representatives is poised this week to blow a quarter-trillion-dollar hole in the federal budget involving, you guessed it, health care. This is the so-called doc fix, to prevent scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursements to physicians from taking effect. …
By the way, don’t be fooled by the incredible shrinking “cost” of the fix. The official Congressional Budget Office estimate used to be $245 billion over 10 years. Now it’s $210 billion. In fact, the real hit to the budget will be closer to $300 billion. The lower CBO numbers stem primarily from the administration’s move to change the rules about which physician payments are subject to the cuts. The administration proposed a regulation to exempt drugs administered in doctor’s offices, such as chemotherapy, from the spending ceiling. That has the effect of making the cost of the fix look smaller, but it doesn’t change the ultimate drain on the treasury: Medicare will end up paying out the same amount of money.
All of this is, to some degree, Medicare kabuki to placate the American Medical Association. The Senate doesn’t have the votes to pass a permanent fix without paying for it — though, of course, it also doesn’t have the votes actually to pay for it. So while the House might pass the unpaid-for fix, it will likely die there. The result will be another year-long, or possible two-year, patch slapped on this mess. Finding the money to pay for the fix and, more to the point, cobbling together the political coalition to support it, is difficult. Which is why Congress and the administration have joined hands in the pretense that the doc fix has nothing whatsoever to do with health reform.
The Post actually takes it easy on Pelosi. The toughest they get is calling her sleight-of-hand a “deception” in the headline. They could have gone further, as the Examiners’ Byron York did, in noting the particularly deceptive manner in which Pelosi pushed the spending through Congress.
However, at least the Post has finally reported it, albeit only on their editorial pages. Has any other national media outlet put the doctor fix with the bill itself to challenge Democrats’ assertions of fiscal responsibility? As it stands, the entirety of health-care legislation would blow a big hole in the deficit during the first ten years even as defined by Pelosi, let alone subsequent periods. Did the media suddenly lose interest in the deficit?