Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D., Nev.) now says that “we need to fix the Medicare doctors’ payments first, outside of health reform” — thereby allowing almost a quarter of a trillion dollars in new deficit spending to be passed without having to count it against the balance sheet of a Democratic health bill. Previous Democratic bills had included this “doc fix” (although the Obama administration and Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already tried not to count that part) as part of the broader health-care legislation — doctors being associated with health care in many people’s minds.
In response to Reid’s latest efforts, today’s Washington Post editorial doesn’t pull many punches. The Post writes, “This latest maneuver only heightens the fiscal irresponsibility of what already was a fiscal sleight of hand.” This, on the heels of the Post’s having previously written that, while the House health bill is full of “budgetary smoke and mirrors,” it at least has the virtue of being more “honest” than the Senate bill. That was even before the Senate began to talk about using the “doc fix” to fix the books.
The Senate was supposed to be the chamber that’s above all this. Instead, the majority leader now stands there, holding up a credit card in each hand — one for the “doc fix,” one for the larger bill that would cost nearly $4 trillion over 20 years (according to the CBO, as I reported in my recent NY Post piece).
Taking out a second credit card to pay for Obamacare? That’s not the change we need.