House Punts Doc-Fix Problem to March
As part of a defense spending bill passed yesterday in the House, Democratic leaders included funding to prevent a 21-percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors, which was scheduled to hit Jan. 1. But the relief doesn’t last long. Instead, Democrats delayed the cuts just two months, meaning that Congress will be forced to come back to the issue early next year in search of a longer-term solution.
Not only will that not be cheap (failed legislation providing a permanent fix scored near $250 billion), but it also puts Democrats in the awkward position of taking up an urgent health care bill just weeks after they’re likely to enact the most sweeping health care reforms in decades. That the enormous reform bill doesn’t tackle the so-called doc-fix — one of the thorniest and most expensive problems facing the nation’s health care system — will surely leave some voters scratching their heads.