Quick Fact: Morrisey advances falsehood that “doctor fix” means health care bill doesn’t reduce deficit
In a March 30 Hot Air post, Ed Morrisey advanced the falsehood that the health care reform bill does not reduce the deficit because it did not include the so-called “doctor fix.” However, there is no reason the “doctor fix” should be included in the cost of health care reform since the issue predates the health care reform debate and will need to be resolved regardless of health care reform’s outcome.
Hot Air falsely claims health care bill doesn’t reduce deficit because it excluded “doctor fix”
From a March 30 Hot Air explained that the so-called “doc fix” is a remedy to faulty legislation that will need to be passed irrespective of health care reform. From Klein’s explanation:
For a longer explanation of this issue, head to this post. The short version: In 1997, Republicans passed the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate into law. The provision created a simple equation meant to hold down Medicare costs and cut doctor payments when they rose. But the provision was passed when Medicare’s costs were uncommonly low. Suddenly, SGR was forcing huge cuts rather than the modest adjustments that had been intended. So legislators began voting to delay implementation rather than cut doctor payments.
The first delay was passed in 2003, under Republicans. Then again in 2005, also under Republicans. Then in 2006, under Republicans. Then in 2007 and 2008, under Democrats. For those keeping count at home, this is a policy in a Republican bill that Republicans delayed three times and Democrats delayed twice. What’s needed is to reform the system so we stop delaying it. And we will need to do that — and this is important — whether or not health-care reform passes.
Klein further stated that the problem necessitating the fix “predates health-care reform and exists irrespective of health-care reform’s fate. Attempts to lash the two together are nonsensical.”
NY Times: “Doc fix long predates” reform and criticism is “pretty flimsy.” The Times‘ David Leonhardt described criticisms of the “so-called doc fix” as “pretty flimsy,” explaining that the fix would rectify an “accounting fiction” resulting from the 1990s legislation that has been repeatedly overridden since 2003. He wrote:
The current health care bills don’t fix this problem. An early version of them tried to, which has led some people to suggest that the doc fix is a creation of this health reform effort. But it isn’t. The doc fix long predates it. For reform to reduce the deficit relative to the status quo, it doesn’t need to undo the doc fix — any more than it needs to, say, cure cancer in order to improve the nation’s health. The bill simply needs to improve the status quo.