The Blue Dogs scored a concession from Henry Waxman yesterday by apparently getting an agreement that a body other than Congress will determine the size and scope of future Medicare cuts. If this becomes law, Members of Congress will breathe a sigh of relief, as future cuts, which will be necessary as the Medicare trust funds face looming bankruptices, will be taken out of Congress’s hands and given to an independent body like the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (Medpac). This might get Congress off the hook for some painful cuts, but would not solve the larger problem of needing to have a governmental body set payment schedules and fees. Adding a new public health-care program will only exacerbate this problem of government-set payment rates in the future.
From a tactical standpoint, I hope that the Blue Dogs do not give up after this concession. Their victory in delaying the Energy and Commerce Committee vote shows how much leverage they have, and there are a lot of additional problems that need fixing. Bill Kristol has advised that Republicans use the unpopularity of the first draft to kill it and start over, and the Blue Dogs should certainly consider that option as well.