Shell games in the Senate for ObamaCare

Recall how Democrats hailed the Baucus plan in the Senate Finance Committee for not increasing the deficit?  It accomplished that by keeping scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates to providers, which will drive many of them out of the Medicare business — and Democrats know it.  To correct this, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a separate bill to increase those payments, which will cost more than $240 billion over the next ten years and substantially increase the deficit:

Maneuvering to boost prospects for sweeping health care legislation, Senate Democrats hope first to win quick approval for a bill that grants doctors a $247 billion increase in Medicare fees over a decade but raises federal deficits in the process, officials said Wednesday.

By creating a two-bill approach, Democrats intend to claim the more comprehensive health care measure meets President Barack Obama’s conditions — that it will neither add to deficits nor exceed $900 billion in costs over 10 years.

If approved and signed into law, the legislation would avert a 21 percent reduction in Medicare fees paid to doctors that is scheduled to take effect in January as well as additional cuts in future years.

In other words, the “comprehensive” Baucus plan isn’t comprehensive at all, but a cherry-picking summary that ignores the rate increase Democrats plan to offer.  Combined, that would put the Senate version of ObamaCare at over $1.1 trillion and cause it to increase the federal deficit.  Interestingly and hardly coincidentally, this only came to light after the Finance Committee asked for CBO scoring on Baucus’ summary.

And did they attempt to split the bill so that Baucus could claim to have actually saved money?  Not exactly:

In the Senate, the immediate impact of a two-bill approach is to slice $10.7 billion from the cost of the health care bill that cleared the Finance Committee bill, money that could then be spent on other priorities.

This is an extraordinarily dishonest maneuver by Democrats.  I could go back to their 2006-8 rhetoric about “open and honest government” and “transparency,” but this goes beyond hypocrisy.  Stabenow, Reid, Baucus, and their colleagues have conspired to lie to the American public about the true cost of this health-care overhaul.  There simply is no other interpretation possible.  Baucus submitted a summary with reimbursement rates he knew would be false to gain favorable CBO scoring, while his colleagues changed the reimbursement rates via legislative sleight-of-hand.