• I’m not the only one who thinks the doc fix ain’t deficit reducing material

    Still getting pushback on my assertion that fixing the SGR isn’t really deficit reducing. David Nanther, in a very amusing Politico piece on how the super committee might lower health care spending, agrees with me:

    OPTION: Fix the Medicare physician payment formula

    What it does: Rewrites the current Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which has an enormous backlog of payment cuts that are about to hit doctors — because Congress postpones the cuts with a temporary legislative “doc fix” every time the cuts are supposed to happen.
    What it saves: Ha ha! Funny. It’s going to cost money — about $358 billion over 10 years, according to CBO. But it’s what provider groups are going to want the supercommittee to do. Otherwise, their payments are going to be cut by 29 percent if there’s no fix to the current formula by the end of the year.
    What the Republican members will say: “That would be a good idea for Bizarro Supercommittee, where the idea is to spend money. It’s not a good idea for us.”
    What the Democratic members will say: “Well, the American Medical Association did support health care reform. Hmm … How much does raising the eligibility age save, again?”

    I think fixing the SGR is a good thing, and that we should do it. But – as David asserts – it reduces spending only in Bizarro World.

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    • Isn’t the committee scored against the CBO’s current policy baseline, which assumes perpetual doc fixes? If the committee’s scored against current law, it’ll be next to impossible to meet their required deficit target since there’s no chance that any member of the GOP on the committee will break ranks to let the Bush cuts expire.