At last, the failure of Congress to integrate their “doctor fix” into ObamaCare has created enough political pressure to get Barack Obama involved in another health-care fight — this one entirely predictable and avoidable. Democrats played it cute during the crafting and eventual passage of ObamaCare by keeping their intent to rescind the scheduled 21% cuts in reimbursement to Medicare providers away from the CBO while the bill got scored, allowing Democrats in Congress and Obama to claim that ObamaCare saved a negligible amount in the first ten years. Now, with doctors and Medicare administrators screaming about the scheduled cuts that went into effect on June 1, Obama uses his weekly address to beg Republicans to allow the Democratic shell game to finish:
Since 2003, Congress has acted to prevent these pay cuts from going into effect. These votes were largely bipartisan, and they succeeded when Democrats ran Congress and when Republicans ran Congress – which was most of the time.
This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21% — a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether. But this time, some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue. After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors.
Oh, no no no no, Mr. President. You don’t get to claim that this time. You and your colleagues on the Hill promised that ObamaCare would pay for itself based on the scheduled reimbursement numbers staying in place. What you want Republicans to do is to sign off on creating an even larger deficit, thanks to the mandates you, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid put into place with ObamaCare.
I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong. And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors.
Now you’re willing to take difficult steps, but not during the ObamaCare debate? This problem was well known for the entirety of the debate. Instead of actually addressing it comprehensively, you bought off the AMA by cutting a sleazy side deal to buy their support. Had you really wanted to consider the needs of our doctors and seniors, your “comprehensive” health-care overhaul bill would have included a revamp of the scheduled cuts.
The problem here isn’t doctor compensation. Congress waived the cuts fairly regularly because everyone understood that. The problem Medicare faces is excessive eligibility and far too much bureaucracy. Previous Congresses and administrations knew they were kicking the can down the road, but this year is different. This Congress and this administration created an even larger bureaucracy and based its cost structure on finally implementing the scheduled Medicare cuts in order to sell the bill of goods to the American public. In promising that ObamaCare would be deficit neutral based on CBO assessments with these cuts in place, Obama implicitly endorsed these cuts.
They are not a Republican problem; they are an Obama problem. And the GOP does not need to rescue Obama from his own folly. If Obama and the Democrats want to continue to spin and fib about what a great bill ObamaCare is, then let it stand as it was passed — and let the American public see for themselves just how great it actually is.
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