Democrats will introduce legislation that removes the Medicare cuts to doctors in exchange for another $371 billion in health care costs, bringing the total cost of the government-run health care legislation to well-over $1 trillion. That will wipe out any deficit reductions indicated in the CBO score.
Why the separate legislation for this “doc fix”? Because including the measure in the current legislation would lead to no deficit reduction and higher costs. We’ll end up with both negative impacts anyway, but making the plan into two separate pieces of legislation makes each more politically safe.
Democrats removed the so-called doc fix from the reform legislation last year because its $371-billion price tag would have made it impossible for Democrats to claim that their bill reduces the deficit. Republicans have argued for months that by stripping the doc fix from the bill, Democrats were playing a shell game.
“Most health staff are already aware that our health proposal does not contain a ‘doc fix.’ … The inclusion of a full SGR repeal would undermine reform’s budget neutrality. So again, do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reduction and number of Americans covered,” the memo, sent Thursday to Democratic staff, said.
“As most health staff knows, leadership and the White House are working with the AMA to rally physicians for a full SGR repeal later this spring. However, both health and communications staff should understand we do not want that policy discussion discussed at this time, lest (it) complicate the last critical push to pass health reform,” according to the memo.
The memo helps explains why the American Medical Association has supported reform even though their top legislative priority, the doc fix, was left out. The group is working behind the scenes with Democratic leadership and the White House to fix the cuts later this year.
In other words, the CBO score is only for one part of the overall government-run health care plan. The other aspect, the “doc fix”, will add another $371 billion to the already-scored $940 billion price tag. It would also eliminate the deficit reduction promised by Democrats.
You can download the full Democratic strategy memo, in all of its sleezy and corrupt glory, over at Hot Air.