There are real reforms on the table that Congress can and should consider. Adding $400 billion to our national debt isn’t one of them.
Why are Republicans cutting a deal with Nancy Pelosi to throw an extra $400 billion onto the national debt and calling it entitlement reform?
This latest misguided venture should concern all fiscal conservatives—or anyone who likes the idea of keeping our government on a sustainable trajectory.
Almost two decades ago, Congress decided to tie reimbursements for doctors taking Medicare patients to a “Sustainable Growth Rate” or SGR. This would pay doctors more if Medicare was in the black, less if it was in the red, and ideally balance things out year-by-year.
Since Medicare has been bleeding money for some time, however, this would instantly result in a 21 percent pay cut for doctors taking Medicare patients. So in a yearly ritual, Congress has temporarily blocked the cuts from taking place 17 times—a process which has become known as “doc fix.”
Congress has debated making this fix permanent for years; nobody wants to add to Medicare’s problems by shorting doctors for seeing patients. Unfortunately, the plan being proposed by Speaker John Boehner looks to pay for these reimbursements by adding $400 billion to the national debt over the next 20 years. It’s an unfortunate and unnecessary sore thumb in the midst of other good reforms.
Perhaps this is what comes of Republican leadership courting Democrats to pass legislation in defiance of their own party. They’ve already made a habit of cobbling together a minority of Republicans with the Democrat caucus to pass odious bills.