Tone deaf?

We all know what the doc fix is, right? The annual (or so) vote to not let the SGR kick in so that docs don’t see a massive cut in their Medicare reimbursement? The AMA thinks that the debt ceiling negotiations are the time to make the fix permanent:

Republican negotiators have poured cold water on the idea of using the debt-ceiling vote to tackle the “sustainable growth rate” formula (SGR). But the American Medical Association and other doctors groups say the two go hand-in-hand.

The SGR has become a perennial headache for doctors and Congress alike. The formula calls for a payment cut of nearly 30 percent in January 2012 — when the latest temporary fix is set to expire. Congress consistently blocks scheduled cuts from taking effect, and has to come up with new offsets each time.

According to the AMA, a permanent SGR repeal would have cost $48 billion in 2005 — compared with a price tag of nearly $300 billion to block the cuts that are scheduled for January.

Do you really think that negotiations concerning the debt ceiling are the time to start arguing for an additional couple of hundred billion in spending? Really?

Raising the debt ceiling is incredibly important. Negotiations aren’t going totally smoothly. Evidently, cutting spending seems to be the one thing that both sides can sort of agree on.

Demanding that new spending be part of the the deal isn’t going to go over well with either side. It’s not going to happen. Moreover, demanding it might make your group look silly. There are times to argue for more spending, and I’ve done so many times, but as part of a negotiation to lower the debt ceiling? That seems a bit tone deaf.

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